Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

Olympian Jess Varnish considers legal action after British Cycling Review verdict

Jess Varnish was dropped from the GB cycling team in 2016 Credit: PA Wire

Jess Varnish - the former Olympian from Bromsgrove - is threatening legal action over her removal from the GB cycling team after a report criticised governing body British Cycling's handling of her case.

Varnish, 26, was dropped shortly after failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics in the women's team sprint at the World Track Championships in March 2016.

Jess Varnish has been embroiled in a row with ex-technical director Shane Sutton Credit: PA Wire

The cycling star was embroiled in a row after criticising her coaches for poor selection during the qualifying period. Within weeks of her comments she was out of the team and ex-technical director Shane Sutton later said the decision was performance related and that she was no longer worth funding with public money.

Varnish hit back at Sutton with claims of bullying and discrimination and, when other ex-riders came out in support, an independent review panel led by British Rowing's Annamarie Phelps was commissioned and an internal British Cycling investigation started.

  • Verdict

After 14 months of denials, disputes and missed deadlines, Phelps' panel delivered its verdict on Wednesday and it was a damning indictment of British Cycling's leadership, Sutton's suitability for the top job and funding agency UK Sport's oversight.

It was also critical of British Cycling's handling of the Varnish affair, saying it was clear some directors wanted to bring Sutton back if exonerated.

However, the panel's final report is less scathing than a draft version written in February and leaked to the Daily Mail soon after. That document called the board "dysfunctional" and "inept", and accused it of "sanitising" the Sutton verdict in a "shocking and inexcusable" way.

All of that, however, has been removed from the final version following a legal process known as Maxwellisation, which gives those criticised in reports the right to reply.

  • Reaction from Jess Varnish
Jess Varnish said she felt insulted by the evidence detailed in the report Credit: Andrew Milligan/PA Archive/PA Images

The report contained comments from witnesses who believe Varnish was singled out because she was "the ring-leader" and her criticism of the coaches was "the tipping point."

In an interview with The Times, Varnish said: "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).

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.

– Jess Varnish speaking to The Times

Phelps said: "If I were Jess Varnish I would be very upset that the process was not a satisfactory one.

"If we were to describe a process to deal with that, that wouldn't be what we would have advised."