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Shane Sutton only lost Varnish case on account of using the word 'bitches'

Shane Sutton
Josh Cunningham
8 Dec 2016

Out of nine charges brought against Shane Sutton in an internal British Cycling investigation, only one was upheld

Page 1 of 2Shane Sutton only lost Varnish case on account of using the word 'bitches'

Investigations carried out by the BBC have revealed that British Cycling's former performance director, Shane Sutton, was only found guilty of one charge out of the nine that were brought against him in an internal investigation. 

The investigation commenced after allegations were made by Jess Varnish, a former British Cycling team rider, that Sutton had used inappropriate and discriminatory language. The initial allegations made, for example that Varnish was told to 'get on with having a baby', and that her 'ass was too big', were not upheld. 

'I can categorically state I never made those comments I was originally alleged to have made,' said Sutton upon news that British Cycling had upheld the allegations. 

Varnish, however, maintains otherwise: 'I am shocked and upset by this latest news,' she said in regard to only one of nine cases being upheld. 'I have instructed my solicitor to appeal against the findings of the internal investigation on my behalf.

'Having provided substantial evidence to back up my complaints, to now learn that the majority were not upheld is heartbreaking. I know what was said, and I know I've told the truth.

'I have requested from British Cycling the full investigation report to understand why the weight of evidence provided by me and others wasn't sufficient for the board to uphold my complaints.'

The saga, which first surfaced in April after Varnish initially spoke out, looked to be nearing a conclusion when British Cycling said it had upheld the allegations in October. But the work carried out by the BBC uncovers yet more questions. 

'They have managed to satisfy neither Jess nor Shane Sutton and to embarrass themselves in the process,' said Simon Fenton, Varnish's lawyer.

'Everyone needs to see the full report to understand how they came to their conclusions and to challenge them if appropriate.'

Investigation breakdown

Discriminatory conduct

  • Use of term 'bitches'. Upheld
  • Use of term 'Sheilas' (an Australian term for women). Not upheld
  • Swearing, use of 'c word'. Not upheld
  • 'Get on with having a baby' comment. Not upheld
  • Women branded as being difficult. Not upheld
  • Equipment not equally distributed among male and female riders. Not upheld
  • Discrimination/careers after the Olympic Podium Programme. Not upheld

Bullying

  • Body weight. Not upheld
  • Decision not to renew Jess Varnish's Olympic Podium Programme membership. Not upheld

28/10/16

British Cycling upholds allegations of sexism against former technical director Shane Sutton

'Following an internal investigation, the British Cycling board has upheld an allegation made by Jess Varnish that former technical director Shane Sutton had used inappropriate and discriminatory language,' a British Cycling statement released this afternoon reads.

'The board wishes to put on record its sincere regret that this happened. The findings of the investigation will help the development of the organisation alongside the independent review into the culture of the World Class Programme, jointly commissioned by British Cycling and UK Sport, and led by Annamarie Phelps.

'The full text of the board's report has been made available to the independent review. No further comment will be made until that review has reported its findings.'

Back story

The saga started back in March, when Varnish voiced criticism of the way she thought British Cycling had managed the Olympic qualification process for the team sprint, citing a reliance on developing riders, rather than 'A-team' riders, to gain spots. Not long after, Varnish was - suspiciously to some - dropped from the national programme. This prompted the former World Champion and world record holder to recount comments made by Shane Sutton upon her exit, saying she was told that her 'ass was too big' and that she should 'go and have a baby'. 

A furore ensued, with numerous British track riders voicing their opinions of claimed shady, discriminatory undertones within the British Cycling system. An independent review of their performance programmes was launched by BC, and Sutton resigned from his post as technical director not long therafter, stating that it was in the interests of British Cycling, but that he denied any wrongdoing.

It's a stance he has upheld since then, and he has maintained that he would also like to return to his post as technical director. Many riders still involved with British Cycling have defended Sutton while he has been out of office, but the latest news of British Cycling's stance will no doubt have an impact of the likelihood of that happening.

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Page 1 of 2Shane Sutton only lost Varnish case on account of using the word 'bitches'