Track sprinter Jess Varnish’s lawyer has asked British Cycling to provide it with her personal records including text messages and emails between Shane Sutton and other coaches that mention her name.
The request comes a week after it was revealed that British Cycling upheld just one of nine allegations against former technical director Sutton – that he referred to female cyclists as “bitches” – in its investigation into Varnish’s claims against him of bullying and discrimination.
In October, British Cycling announced it had “upheld an allegation made by Jess Varnish that former technical director Shane Sutton had used inappropriate and discriminatory language,” adding that “the board wishes to put on record its sincere regret that this happened.”
Varnish, 26, who competed in the team sprint at London 2012 alongside Victoria Pendleton – the pair finished out of the medals after being relegated for an illegal change – said she was “shocked and upset” at the news, which she has described as “heart breaking.”
She said last week that she planned to appeal that decision and her lawyer, Simon Fenton, has now demanded that British Cycling hand over records relating to Varnish under the Data Protection Act, reports The Guardian.
The newspaper says that Fenton wrote to British Cycling president Bob Howden to set out a “general request that relates to any data processed on behalf of British Cycling”.
Examples of such data, he wrote, included training and competition data, emails and other correspondence mentioning her name, personnel and medical records, as well as the investigation and report relating to her allegations against Sutton.
The letter also asked for data relating to “The decision to remove her from the Olympic Podium Programme and to terminate her relationship with British Cycling”, which happened between the World Championships in London in March, and Varnish making her claims against the technical director.
Sutton resigned as technical director in April after further claims were made against him, including one by six-time Paralympic champion Darren Kenny that he had referred to para-cyclists as “gimps” and “wobblies.”
Those allegations, and Varnish’s, form part of a wider independent investigation into the culture of British Cycling by UK Sport, the government agency that provides most of its funding.
During the past eight months, Sutton has vigorously defended himself against Varnish’s allegations. The New South Wales-born coach was recently revealed to be on the shortlist for the vacant position of high performance director at Cycling Australia.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.