British Cycling: Jess Varnish ‘insulted’ by report into alleged bullying

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Cycling report ‘not a whitewash’ – Phelps

Jess Varnish has reacted angrily to the findings of a report on British Cycling that was triggered by her allegations of sexism and bullying.

The former Olympic rider said it was “laughable” that she had been described as a troublemaker and ringleader.

“I am insulted. In a way I’m glad they have used this language because it shows what the people are like in there [British Cycling],” she told The Times.

MP Damian Collins has called for a “complete change” at British Cycling.

“None of the members of the board from the period covered in the investigation should remain, which would mean that Jonathan Browning should stand aside from his position as chairman,” said Collins, who is standing to continue as chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.

He said Brian Cookson, president of British Cycling from 1996 to 2013, should not be re-elected as International Cycling Union president or receive support from UK Sport for his campaign.

Fellow MP Julian Knight, who has also sat on the select committee, said: “This report highlights that there were major failings at British Cycling and UK Sport was asleep on its watch.”

  • Report in detail: British Cycling ‘lacked good governance’

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Nicholl denies win-at-all-costs approach

The report criticised British Cycling’s board, former technical director Shane Sutton and funding agency UK Sport.

It said British Cycling lacked good governance at board level and a “culture of fear” existed within the team, according to many staff members.

The chair of the review, Annamarie Phelps, denied the long-awaited report was “a whitewash” after a more damning draft was leaked in March.

British Cycling has introduced various changes since the claims, while UK Sport has promised a “root and branch” review of world-class programmes and denied it put medals before athlete welfare.

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‘Cycling report uncomfortable reading’

‘I am not a troublemaker’

Track cyclist Varnish, 26, may take legal action after she was dropped from the Olympic squad in March 2016 and alleged she had been bullied and sexually discriminated against by Sutton.

Australian Sutton, who quit in the wake of her allegations, was later found guilty of using sexist language towards her but cleared of eight of nine charges against him. He was also cleared of any bullying allegations.

Varnish specifically dismissed the suggestion she had been a troublemaker while on the team.

That claim featured in the report, with Varnish cited in evidence given to the panel as being “perceived as the ‘ringleader’ for the criticism against WCP (world-class programme) coaching staff” and that she “was also viewed as a troublemaker”.

“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,” she said.

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March 2017: Varnish ‘relieved truth is coming out’

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