Former British Cycling technical director, Shane Sutton has denied being discriminatory towards the organisation's para-athletes and says he has no recollection of referring to them as 'gimps' or 'wobblies'.
The accusations against Sutton, made by former para-cyclist Darren Kenny, were made in April of this year in the wake of Jess Varnish's allegations that he had been sexist towards her. Sutton was suspended by British Cycling the same day as the allegations were made public before he stepped down from his position. British Cycling recently upheld Varnish's claims following an internal investigation. Their findings have been passed onto an independent panel, which has not yet released its findings. The BC investigation made no mention of the comments towards the para-cyclists.
In July, Sutton denied making the comments but told Sky Sports this month that he could not say whether or not he had used those phrases. He also stated that he had been supportive of the programme.
"We've got to look at that in the bigger picture. The culture was in there that these guys were calling themselves that particular name. For me to turn around to say that I had never used that term in 15 years, I couldn't say," he told Sky Sports. "The thing was, I was very strong in trying to change the culture. All the para people know that I have supported them 100 per cent. We've tried to give as much parity as possible, they wear the same suits, [have] the same bikes, the same helmets."
That programme is probably the best supported in the world, but they have their own culture in there. They're all great athletes; they're all great people. It's not something I would turn around and say that I was in any way discriminatory towards para-cycling at all. Some of my biggest supporters run para-cycling, and I was a little bit disturbed to hear that sort of comment."
Sutton also hit out at his accusers, saying that some of them had been removed from British Cycling for themselves using discriminatory language. He did not say who and it's not clear whether he was referring to Kenny or others.
"Certain people who have criticised me in that regard are people who have been removed from the programme for making defamatory comments towards para-cycling," said Sutton. "We're talking people who have headed up programmes in the past and have been removed under Ian Drake and Dave Brailsford's tenures at BC for being discriminative. I certainly don't fall under that category."
In the same interview, part of which was released earlier this week, Sutton also denied using sexist language when talking to Varnish. He did, however, say that he had asked her to lost some 'timber'. Sutton had hoped that he might be able to return to British Cycling, but that seems unlikely in light of British Cycling's findings.
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