Varnish determined to return to British Cycling fold for Olympic Games

Dropped sprinter makes contact with Shane Sutton's interim replacement

Just a month after being dropped from Great Britain's Olympic Programme, Jess Varnish has reiterated her desire to compete at the Olympic Games in Rio this summer, and has set the ball rolling by making contact with British Cycling's new performance director Andy Harrison, Shane Sutton's interim replacement.

Sutton resigned last month after Varnish made allegations of sexism and unprofessionalism, which led to others speaking out about instances of inappropriate behaviour from the Australian.

Varnish, a World Championships and Commonwealth Games medal winner, felt that the decision to drop her was not based objectively on her performances and, after travelling to Australia to continue her training, she hopes the change in personnel will open the door once more.

"My immediate priority is to win back my place on the British Cycling team, ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, and to prove that I was, and still am, good enough to win medals for Great Britain," said Varnish in a statement posted on her website on Tuesday.

"I have reached out to the new Performance Director at British Cycling, Andy Harrison, and will meet with him on my return to the UK. I hope that on hearing my case, and with the knowledge that I have been doing the best I can under the circumstances to maintain my fitness on the track, Andy Harrison and British Cycling will give me the chance to get back on the British cycling program ahead of selection for Rio. It is been a dream for me ever since London 2012 to compete and be successful in Rio."

At the Track World Championships in March, Varnish and Katy Marchant failed to secure a qualifying spot in the team sprint for Rio, and Varnish publicly criticised coaching decisions. Soon after, the 25-year-old was told over the phone that she had been dropped. 

In her statement, Varnish once again countered British Cycling's original claim that the decision was made purely on sporting grounds, and also went as far as to set out her credentials.

"I still maintain that the decision not to renew my contract was not down to performance. Prior to the 2016 World Championships I was not once told that I was underperforming. We have monthly reviews and at no stage was I put under review, or set performance targets to keep my place on the programme," she said.

"The first I knew that the coaches had an issue with my performance levels, or training data, was 5 days after the 2016 World Championships, when I was told I wouldn’t be getting a new contract over the phone.

"I also maintain that I am a World Class Athlete, and have the ability to win more medals for Great Britain. During the 2 year Olympic qualifying process:

  • I gained more qualifying points than any other British female sprint ride
  • I was consistently performing in the top 5 in the World for Lap 1 times in the Team Sprint

  • I qualified the Olympic places for Great Britain in the individual Sprint and Keirin.

  • Since 2012 I have won medals at the World & European Championships and Commonwealth Games."

Varnish has remained silent publicly since making her original allegations against Sutton and about a wider unsavoury culture at British Cycling, but said she has offered her full support to the governing body's investigation, as well as that of UK Sport. 

"I don't think it would be productive to comment further around my previous statements until these investigations have had a chance to run their course," she added. 

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