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.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.