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Jess Varnish "would be welcomed back" says British Cycling chief executive

Organisation reviewing its whistleblowing policies

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."

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the road.cc team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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8 comments

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Kapelmuur | 6 years ago
0 likes

Best of luck to Jess Varnish getting back on the squad. There are far too many coffee shops in Altrincham.

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Legin | 6 years ago
1 like

Clearly a few too many on here have been reading British Cycling's press releases and "briefings" to be bothered with the facts.

Jess Varnish is our Best Womens Team Sprinter by a country mile; her UCI points qualified the Women Sprinters for Brazil; at the time she was sacked for standing up for herself she was the fastest woman sprinter on the squad. Stick your BS where the sun don't shine!

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alansmurphy | 6 years ago
3 likes

I anticipate the use of the word "snowflake" within the next 5 comments...

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Velovoyeur | 6 years ago
2 likes

If she can do the figures/times, then why not? If her stats are the same as another's, she will need to accept that other might be chosen for other justifiable reasons other than data eg: team dynamics, character traits, tactical nous or any other factor. Otherwise, it'll be the same trip around the same loop as before.

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WashoutWheeler | 6 years ago
2 likes

OH dear, the Oh so PC no one loses even if they are not good enough culture has arrived truly arrived at British Cycling. Bye Bye medals. The FA must be breathing a sigh of relief.

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zanf replied to WashoutWheeler | 6 years ago
3 likes
WashoutWheeler wrote:

OH dear, the Oh so PC no one loses even if they are not good enough culture has arrived truly arrived at British Cycling. Bye Bye medals. The FA must be breathing a sigh of relief.

What an utter load of bollocks.

BC have had a culture of bullying and cliqueness for all the time that Brailsford and Sutton were heading it up, and even the report in to it was watered down. Its fucking drivel like this from idiots like you that creates a culture of fear so that people dont whistleblow when shit like that goes down.

 

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Jimnm | 6 years ago
3 likes

I bet they hope she doesn’t want to return.

Too thin skinned and can’t take criticism.

political correctness gone mad. 

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clayfit | 6 years ago
1 like

A welcome move, if it can be taken at face value.

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