Shane Sutton resigns amid sexism and discrimination claims

Steps down as technical director of British Cycling after several allegations

Shane Sutton has resigned from his post as the technical director of British Cycling after several allegations of sexism and discrimination were made against him.

The Australian had been suspended pending an enquiry Tuesday but has now stepped down from his role ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

The allegations first surfaced last week when Jessica Varnish claimed that Sutton had made a comment regarding her figure and that she was told that she was "too old" and to “move on and go and have a baby” after she was dropped from the British Olympic track programme.

According to Varnish, she was also told by Sutton that “with an ass like mine I couldn't change position within the team sprint.”
British Cycling held their ground over the matter, rebutting Varnish’s claims and stating that she was dropped for performance reasons. Sutton has strenuously denied making the comments.

Varnish was later joined by Victoria Pendleton and Nicole Cooke who both reaffirmed the track rider’s stance that sexism is rife within British Cycling.

On the back of Pendleton’s and Cooke’s claims, and then a further statement from Varnish, British Cycling announced on Tuesday that they would hold an independent review into the allegations, and offered to talk to Varnish, who admitted that she still held out hope of returning to professional cycling.

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However, that was followed by the news of fresh allegations with the six-time Paralympic Games gold medallist Darren Kenny telling the Daily Mail that, “The term used to refer to us [Paralympic athletes] was generally "gimps", with another word in front of that.

"I know others had an issue as well with not being allowed on the track and not being given time to prepare for competitions.”

The Daily Mail also talked to a source who had worked closely with Sutton, who stated that, “they were referred to as wobblies. It was an in-joke used to describe para-cyclists but it's not politically correct, clearly. I think that they did know about it.”

Sutton had led the British track team to success at the World Championships in London in March and was set to carry the team into the Rio Olympics. He had been part of the set-up at the London 2012 Olympics and replaced Dave Brailsford in 2014 but the 58-year-old’s position became virtually untenable, even before the enquiry had taken place.

In a statement released to the media, Sutton said: "It is important that the review announced by British Cycling and UK Sport now takes place, and I will obviously co-operate fully with this.

“Today starts the 100-day countdown to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is absolutely crucial that, as our athletes begin their final preparations for Rio, they are able to do so free of distraction.

"I have made clear that I reject the specific claims that have been made against me in recent days, and I look forward to taking a full part in the review process so I can respond to the allegations in detail."

British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake confirmed that Andy Harrison, currently the programmes director, would take over Sutton’s role.

"I understand and respect Shane's decision to stand down. His primary focus has always been the athletes, and this decision is something he has taken to allow them to focus on their preparation for Rio,” Drake said.

 

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