Cycling: Sutton suspended as British Cycling launches discrimination review

27th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

British Cycling has suspended technical director Shane Sutton following newspaper reports of discriminatory behaviour by the Australian.

The governing body launched an independent review on Tuesday after sprinter Jess Varnish accused Sutton of sexist conduct, saying he had told her to "go and have a baby" after her contract was not renewed.

Then, just under a couple of hours after the review was announced, a report in Britain's Daily Mail newspaper said Sutton, 58, had made derogatory references to Paralympic cyclists, calling them "gimps".

That appeared to prompt British Cycling's decision to suspend Sutton, who has insisted he has always conducted himself in a professional manner.

Darren Kenny, a winner of 10 Paralympic cycling medals, was quoted by the Mail as saying: "The attitude towards them was abysmal. We were tolerated at best. The term used to refer to us was generally 'gimps', with another word in front of that."

In a statement given to the BBC, British Cycling said: "Following the announcement of an independent review into British Cycling's performance programmes, we are also announcing technical director Shane Sutton has been suspended pending an internal investigation into the allegations of discrimination that have been reported in the press."

Earlier, British Cycling launched its review by saying: "We are fully committed to the principles and active promotion of equality of opportunity and we must take any such allegations seriously."

Varnish, 25, was dropped from the British team for this year's Olympic Games in Rio after failing to qualify for the two-woman, two-lap team sprint alongside Katy Marchant.

- Chance 'denied' -

Tuesday saw Varnish issue a statement restating allegations she first made in the Mail regarding Sutton's "go and have a baby" comments.

Sutton and British Cycling denied the allegations, insisting Varnish was dropped solely on form.

But Varnish said comments made by Sutton in an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper proved she would not have a decent chance of regaining her place in the team.

"I feel that chance is being denied to me unfairly. I also want to change the culture at British Cycling and their treatment of women," she said on Tuesday.

"When Shane Sutton gave his interview to the Telegraph discussing my situation I was devastated. He said in his interview that I was 'too old' and 'not worth wasting UK Sport's (the national funding agency's) money'.

"At 25 years old I feel my best years are ahead of me. I also want to compete for Great Britain again. I am not too old. I am not a waste of UK Sport's money. I can win more medals."

Varnish received support from double Olympic champion ans former sprint partner Victoria Pendleton, who retired after London 2012, in an interview published in Tuesday's Telegraph.

"I would not be able to live with myself if I sat back and let people try to discredit (Varnish's) character. Not when I wholeheartedly believe her," she said.

"My experiences were very similar. And I know exactly how miserable they made me."

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© 2016 AFP

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