Emma Pooley has added to recent claims of an embedded culture of sexism within British Cycling after technical director Shane Sutton resigned from his role following alleged sexism and discrimination claims. Olympic gold medallists Nicole Cooke and Victoria Pendelton, as well as Jess Varnish are among riders to have spoken out about the governing body with several riders also voicing their concerns with British Cycling in the aftermath of Sutton's departure.
Pooley, who has returned to cycling following two years in duathlon after retiring from the sport in 2014, raised questions over the role of Team Sky principal Dave Brailsford in what efforts were made to establish a women's 'Team Sky' equivalent in 2010.
"I think the issue is much bigger than him," the 2008 Olympic Games time trial silver medalist said of Sutton's resignation. "If you're going to ask questions of Shane Sutton you have to ask them of Dave Brailsford too. I wish more questions had been asked of him before he was awarded his knighthood and moved to Sky. It was when he was running British Cycling that there was no women's Team Sky," the Guardian has reported.
During her career, Pooley rode for two teams that ran both professional men's and women's squads, Cervélo TestTeam and Lotto Belisol Ladies.
"Why didn't anyone ask how it could be that a publicly funded body like British Cycling joined together with a privately funded team – Sky – on a mission to get a British winner of the Tour de France within five years? Why wasn't there a similar plan for the women?" Pooley asked.
The 2010 season, Team Sky's first in the peloton, was one of Pooley's most successful in her career with wins at La Flèche Wallonne Féminine, Grand Prix Elsy Jacobs, Giro del Trentino Alto Adige-Südtirol, national road and time trial titles and the world time trial title. She then finished runner up at the Giro Rosa in consecutive years, winning three stages on her final appearance in 2014.
"The women's Giro d'Italia was the most important race for women but where was the funding for that? I came second twice and no one from British Cycling offered to put together a team to help me win it," she added.
While Pooley questioned the commitment to women's cycling from British Cycling, she explained a winning culture was ingrained in the governing body supported by committed staff.
"They don't care if you're black, white, green, purple, male or female. They don't care what genitals you have: they just want to help you win medals," she said.
- Thomas: Sutton always wanted the best for British riders
- No crisis at British Cycling says boss Ian Drake
- Pendleton and Cooke claim British Cycling is rife with sexism
- Jess Varnish makes sexism allegations against Shane Sutton
- Varnish dropped from Great Britain track squad ahead of Olympics