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“Insulted” – Jess Varnish’s reaction to British Cycling report

Independent review panel was told track sprinter was a “ringleader” and “troublemaker”


Jess Varnish, the Olympic track sprinter whose allegations of sexism and bullying at British Cycling helped lead to the resignation of former technical director Shane Sutton, says she feels “insulted” by the report of the independent review into British Cycling which was published yesterday.

> Independent review into culture of British Cycling released alongside 2012 report which foresaw many of the problems

The report was compiled by a panel appointed by UK Sport and led by British Rowing chairman, Annamarie Phelps, who received 108 submissions and conducted 44 interviews with staff and riders.

One of the people who gave evidence to the panel described Varnish as a “ringleader” of criticism of British Cycling and “troublemaker” – something she said she found “laughable.”

She told The Times: "I am insulted. In a way I'm glad they have used this language because it shows what the people are like in there.”

The 26-year-old added: “Anyone who knows me knows I am not a troublemaker or ringleader. No one has ever been removed from the programme the way I was.”

Varnish raised allegations of discrimination against Sutton in April 2016 after she was dropped from the Olympic programme.

A subsequent British Cycling investigation upheld just one of the nine complaints against Sutton, something she said had left her “shocked and upset.”

> Varnish "shocked and upset" as Sutton cleared on eight out of nine charges

The independent review said: “The panel did not view her removal as an act of discrimination, but, in the panel’s view at the very least it did not follow contractual due process.”

Yesterday also saw the publication of a 2012 review of British Cycling by Peter King which spoke of “a culture of fear and bullying” and an “autocratic leadership style.”

Damian Collins MP, chair of the House of Commons Select Committee for Culture, Media and Sport, called on British Cycling chairman Jonathan Greening to step down, and said that Brian Cookson, who led British Cycling from 2006 to 2013, should not stand for re-election as UCI president.

Simon joined 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.

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