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by Shane Stokes
November 11, 2017
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Jess Varnish (GBR) pictured during 2013 European championships. Her accusations launched the independent investigation into British Cycling.
Having been told recently that the door was potentially open to her to return to the sport, over a year after she was dropped from British Cycling’s elite programme, Jess Varnish has decided instead to go the legal route. According to The Times and the BBC, she is suing both UK Sport and British Cycling. According to a source close to the 26-year-old, her action is based around claims that she suffered sex discrimination, detriment for whistleblowing, victimisation and unfair dismissal.
Varnish and team sprint partner Katy Marchant were publically critical of British Cycling after they missed qualification for the Rio Olympics. In April of last year the Mail revealed that she had been dropped from the track squad; she later told the paper that technical director Shane Sutton had told her she was “too old” and that she should “move on and get a baby.”
He denied this but resigned from his position after he was accused of being dismissive of female athletes and derogatory towards paracycling competitors. British Cycling investigated the matter and ultimately decided he had ‘used inappropriate and discriminatory language,’ one of nine claims investigated against him. British Cycling publicly apologised to her and announced a review.
Varnish was not satisfied, saying she was considering legal action over the dropping of the other accusations against Sutton. According to the BBC, UK Sport considered applying for a strike-out order to have her case dismissed, but decided not to do so on Monday. However the Telegraph says that attempt was thrown out by a court. She will now proceed to an employment tribunal.
The BBC notes that if a preliminary hearing in April 2018 decides she was effectively an employee of UK Sport and British Cycling when she was competing, this could mean that UK Sport would have to pay pension and national insurance costs.
Click through to read more at the BBC.