Jess Varnish has called on the board of British Cycling to resign after a leaked version of the UK Sport's review of the body was published by the Daily Mail on Friday. According to the Daily Mail, the review finds that the British Cycling board "sanitised" a report on Varnish's allegations of discrimination against former coach Shane Sutton, and reversed the findings of its own grievance officer Alex Russell.
Varnish accused Sutton of having used sexist and discriminatory language towards her when she was released from British Cycling's elite programme ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympics. An internal investigation upheld the allegation of sexism against Sutton in October, though it later emerged that British Cycling had upheld only one of nine instances of discriminatory language alleged by of Varnish. The track sprinter instructed her legal team to appeal the findings.
"I'm not surprised. I had absolutely no faith in the investigation from the get-go. I had been there for a long time and basically I had no faith in it whatsoever so unfortunately I'm not shocked by that," Varnish told the BBC on Friday following the leaking of the UK Sport review. "Now there needs to be changes. These people can't be still in there if they've reversed facts. They can't still be able to be on that board. There needs to be an entire overhaul.”
Varnish said that she felt British Cycling had "thrown her under the bus" in a bid to protect the image of the federation. "It's a lot easier for them to throw me under the bus rather than the whole of British Cycling and for the actual truth to come out," she said. "I think what we've seen with the board is that there are still members who overturned this decision, who covered things up, still in control."
Varnish's allegations first came to light in April 2016, and in the days that followed both Nicole Cooke and Victoria Pendleton made separate claims of sexism within British Cycling. Shane Sutton resigned shortly afterwards but received support from a number of riders. Speaking at the Rio 2016 Olympics, Bradley Wiggins said he expected his former coach to be cleared. "If I'm completely honest, I think there's a lot of bitter people that didn't make the grade, got the boot and they have now come out picking holes in things,” Wiggins said.
For Varnish, the leaked UK Sport report comes as a vindication. "Obviously my story is the truth and it's been exactly the same throughout, but I feel like I have just been pulled from pillar to post," she said. "One minute they're saying the board are saying that they believe me, the next minute I'm receiving a letter and a knock at the door saying it's reversed. Just to get this and see that it's a cover-up is huge."
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