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Joanna Rowsell-Shand latest to speak out for Shane Sutton

Former BC technical director has upcoming UK Sport hearing

Yet another Team GB rider has spoken out in support of the ‘disgraced’ technical director Shane Sutton, who hit the news after allegedly telling track sprinter Jess Varnish to "go and have a baby" after she was dropped from British Cycling's Olympic programme.

It also emerged that Sutton was accused of calling Paralympic cyclists "wobblies" and “gimps”.

But Olympic champion Joanna Rowsell-Shand is just the latest in a string of cyclists to say she personally would welcome Sutton back.

She told BBC Sport: “I hope that they find out what actually went on and people are disciplined for that. But it was a bit of a distraction.

“If the comments are found out to be true then yes, but me personally, I haven’t witnessed any of those things. I do hope the right thing is done.

“I can see a way back because a lot of top riders like Bradley Wiggins have spoken out for him. We need a good leader.

“I personally prefer him at the track cheering me on, rather than in an office. Shane is at his best trackside. “You need all your athletes happy and performing, so we need to see who said what in the review.

Just this week we reported how Olympic gold medallists Ed Clancy and Owain Doull have been reflecting on Team GB's success at Rio and say they would welcome the return of Shane Sutton to British Cycling.

Sutton testified last month before an independent panel set up by UK Sport to investigate the claims, and has said he believes his name will be cleared.

While a number of riders within the British Cycling system have criticised his methods, notably Jess Varnish and the para-cyclist Darren Kenny, others including Sir Bradley Wiggins have defended him.

But Clancy said Sutton deserved a lot of the credit for the 11 medals won on the track in Rio – six of them gold – that continued the unparalleled domination of events at the velodrome from Beijing in 2008 and London 2012.

And we also reported how Olympic medallists Becky James and Katy Marchant say they are prepared to speak in support of Shane Sutton to the panel conducting an independent review into British Cycling. Both have said they never experienced the gender discrimination alleged by Jessica Varnish.

Marchant was Varnish’s team sprint team-mate when the pair failed to qualify for Rio at London’s Track World Championships in March. Varnish was dropped from the Olympic programme, but Marchant remained and this week won bronze in the women’s sprint.

Speaking about allegations of sexism, she said: “There’s nothing wrong with going in and saying how we feel about it. Also, if people have experienced it, they’re entitled to voice their opinions. It’s a cut-throat sport and elite sport is a tough place to be but we choose to do it.”

James, who took silver in the keirin and the sprint, had to take more than a year out due to injury and a cancer scare. She said Sutton’s support had been crucial. “Shane was a massive supporter of me. I can’t thank him enough for what he did for me.”

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.

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