The chief executive of British Cycling says that Jessica Varnish would be invited to rejoin its Podium Programme if she can meet the required performance standards. Julie Harrington also said that the organisation is reviewing its whistleblowing policies following criticism of how it handled the track sprinter’s complaints.
Speaking last week, Harrington spoke of the significant impact of Varnish’s allegations in shaping how the organisation was now run.
“I really enjoyed meeting her and what I don’t want is someone who has represented our country – but also who I’d credit with being a catalyst for this change – having a bad taste in her mouth.
“[Performance director] Stephen Park is on record saying if she makes the required times she’s more than welcome back into the team. Clearly it wouldn’t be easy but we would smooth that journey.”
Speaking to the BBC, she has since reiterated that Varnish, “would be welcomed back if she can do the times that we need to compete at Olympic level.”
According to a report in the Mail, British Cycling has provided the sprinter and her representatives with the standards required to win back a place back on the Podium Programme and they are said to be no higher than those she was achieving prior to her removal.
Varnish alleged she had been bullied and sexually discriminated against by former technical director Shane Sutton and the independent review into the culture of British Cycling ordered in the wake of his resignation last year asked whether the organisation’s leadership was “fit to govern,” making reference to its “inept” handling of allegations.
Varnish herself suggested that the board should resign when the draft version of the review stated that the board had ‘reversed’ the findings of the internal investigation into her allegations.
Harrington, who was appointed in March after working as group operations director at the Football Association, said that British Cycling was reviewing its whistle blowing policies.
"Athletes are not employees and so the same rigour around employee grievance procedures for example, just hasn't been there for athletes.
"We have an athlete representative group, so if people aren't comfortable talking to their coaches or senior management, they can raise concerns through their peers.
"We're also making sure that our whistle blowing policies and grievance procedures are actually fit for athletes, not just employees."