Jess Varnish believes that the entire British Cycling board should resign following the leak of a draft version of the independent review into the organisation. The report asks whether the organisation’s leadership is “fit to govern,” and makes reference to staff bullying and a “culture of fear.”
Varnish was dropped from the Olympic programme last April and alleged that Shane Sutton had told her to ‘go and have a baby’ when informing her of this.
Further allegations followed but in December a British Cycling investigation cleared Sutton on eight out of nine charges of discriminatory conduct and bullying.
Varnish made a formal request to see the report and her lawyer Simon Fenton commented: “Some of the stuff they are giving us is so heavily redacted I don’t know what is going on. It looks like they were coming to a finding which suited British Cycling rather than coming to a decision based on all the information. I didn’t see any evidence of backing up or justifying the conclusions they came to.”
The independent review is said to have found that British Cycling’s board “reversed” some of the findings of the internal investigation, which was carried out by its grievance officer, and “sanitised” the subsequent report.
The termination of Varnish’s funding on the Olympic programme is described as an “act of retaliation” for her saying that poor management decisions had been the reason behind Great Britain failing to qualify a women’s track sprint team for the Rio Olympics.
The report also says that weak leadership allowed Sir Dave Brailsford and Sutton to work without supervision as British Cycling chiefs, creating a "dysfunctional structure".
Referring to British Cycling’s internal report, Varnish told the BBC:
"I had absolutely no faith in the investigation from the get go. Now there needs to be changes. These people can't be still in there if they've reversed facts. They can't still be able to be on that board.
"I think the facts say it for themselves. If they're overturning facts just to protect themselves and to protect the look of British Cycling. It's a lot easier for them to throw me under the bus rather than the whole of British Cycling and for the actual truth to come out."
She added that she may yet take legal action if the final report, due next month, indicates that British Cycling failed in the way it investigated her case.
Double Olympic silver medallist Becky James, however, backed the organisation, saying that she has had “an amazing experience with British Cycling.”
Speaking to the BBC, James said:
"I didn't work very closely with Dave but I work closely with Shane. He was the one that supported me through my injuries, he was the one that believed in me getting to Rio. He pushed me through my training and believed in me.
"He told me if I trained hard and knuckled down that I could get to Rio and I did and I won silver medals. I've always had support from British Cycling."