Sexism allegations against British Cycling’s Sutton upheld

Jess Varnish and Shane Sutton

Varnish and Sutton worked together on the Great Britain track cycling team

Ex-British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton used sexist language towards Jess Varnish, an investigation by the governing body has found.

Rider Varnish, 25, said Sutton made sexist comments and told her to “go and have a baby”, which Sutton denied.

The British Cycling board upheld the allegation that he “used inappropriate and discriminatory language”.

Australian Sutton, 59, resigned in April, having been suspended pending the investigation.

“The board wishes to put on record its sincere regret that this happened,” read a British Cycling statement.

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The report will inform the ongoing independent UK Sport review into the culture of British Cycling’s world-class performance programme, which is due to announce its findings in the next few weeks.

Varnish, who has won medals at the Commonwealth Games and European and World Championships, failed to qualify for the Olympic team sprint in March and was subsequently dropped from the world class programme.

Sutton said her contract was not renewed because her times had slowed over the past three years and she was “not up to the job”.

She claimed he made a sexist comment about her body shape.

Sutton was made British Cycling technical director in 2014 when predecessor Sir Dave Brailsford stepped down after a decade in charge.

Who is Shane Sutton?


Sutton and Sir Chris Hoy embrace during the 2012 Games in London

Sutton, who won Commonwealth gold as a rider, joined British Cycling as a coach in 2002.

He was part of the team that won seven track gold medals at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, before being promoted following Brailsford’s departure in 2014.

In 2009, British cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy, who went on to win six Olympic gold medals, described Sutton as his mentor and said he had been “hugely influential in my success”.

He said Sutton, who also mentored Sir Bradley Wiggins, is “so intense that there are times that the only thing you can do is fall out with him”.

Hoy added: “Half the time you want to throttle the guy and the other half you are trying to get into his good books.”

Key dates in Sutton’s career:

  • 1978: Wins track team pursuit gold at Commonwealth Games
  • 1984: Moves to Great Britain
  • 1990: Wins Milk Race (now Tour of Britain)
  • 2002: Joins British Cycling as coach
  • 2008: Wins coach of the year award
  • 2010: Awarded OBE in Queen’s birthday honours list
  • 2012: Diagnosed with bleeding on the brain after a bike crash in Manchester
  • 2014: Appointed technical director of British Cycling after Brailsford leaves

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