Jess Varnish: British Cycling chief executive says she can return

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March 2017: Varnish ‘relieved truth is coming out’

British Cycling chief executive Julie Harrington says the “door is open” for track cyclist Jess Varnish to return.

The 26-year-old was dropped from the Great Britain squad in April 2016 after failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics.

She then alleged she had been bullied and sexually discriminated against by former technical director Shane Sutton.

“She would be welcomed back if she can do the times that we need to compete at Olympic level”, said Harrington.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Harrington said she was “under no illusions that it would not be easy” for Varnish to transition back into the Great Britain squad.

But she added: “As chief executive of a national governing body, what I’d be committed to is doing everything we can to smooth that journey, to make sure that the right, open conversations are taking place.

“But you need to have the will from the top to make it happen and the door is open.”

Australian Sutton, who quit in the wake of Varnish’s allegations, was 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.

In June 2017, an independent report into claims of bullying within the Great Britain cycling team criticised British Cycling’s board, Sutton and funding agency UK Sport.

Harrington, who was appointed in March, said British Cycling was also 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,” she added.

“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.”

Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cycling/41741386

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