A court case being brought by former track cyclist Jess Varnish against British Cycling could affect the funding of hundreds of Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
Telegraph Sport reports that lawyers acting for the 28-year-old will seek to prove that she was an employee of the governing body rather than having the distinct status that athletes funded through UK Sport have.
Varnish was the first athlete to make allegations of bullying within the Great Britain Cycling Team that led to the departure of former technical director Shane Sutton and an overhaul of British Cycling’s governance and management.
In April 2016, shortly after she raised her concerns, her funding was withdrawn, ostensibly because her performance was not at the required level.
She is now suing the organisation for unfair dismissal, sexual discrimination, victimisation and detrimental treatment, according to the Telegraph.
If her claim is successful, the newspaper says that up to 200 of the 1,100 UK Sport-funded athletes could see a reduction in their grants.
A source told the Telegraph: “The case could have profound consequences, “though what happens will depend on the HMRC’s response; if Jess Varnish was to win, it could force UK Sport to completely restructure its funding model.”
Besides the funding body potentially having to pay National Insurance and pensions contributions for athletes, the outcome of the case could also see some making backdated claims against UK Sport.
Currently, the athlete performance awards of up to £28,000 made by the organisation are tax-exempt and do not give employment rights to the athletes who benefit from them.
Should Varnish succeed, they could have to pay 20 per cent tax, with a similar amount cut from overall funding.
The case, which is being heard in Manchester, is due to start on Monday 10 December.
Varnish was stripped of her funding when she was dropped from the national squad in April 2016 on the basis that her performance was not at the level expected. The 28-year-old claims she was unfairly discriminated against.
If Varnish succeeds next week, sources anticipated it could lead to athletes paying 20 per cent tax on some form of centralised contract, with the same amount lost for their funding.
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.