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Jess Varnish wins right to appeal British Cycling employment case

Joe Robinson
17 Dec 2019

Former track star claims she was unfairly dismissed after being dropped prior to Rio 2016

Former Great Britain track sprinter Jess Varnish has won the right to appeal her employment case against British Cycling. The Employment Appeals Tribunal decided that Varnish had a right to appeal the decision initially made in January 2019, with the hearing likely to happen in the next six months. 

Varnish attempted to claim unfair dismissal by arguing she should have been considered an employee of British Sport or UK Sport however it was decided her funding did not amount to employment.

The 29-year-old attempted to sue both of the bodies for wrongful dismissal and sexual discrimination after being dropped in the lead up to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Additionally, former coach Shane Sutton was found guilty of using sexist language towards her although was cleared of eight of nine allegations put to him.

Sutton was also recently accused of bullying former Team Sky and British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman into purchasing banned substance testosterone, something he strenuously denies.

Talking about the decision to grant her an appeal, Varnish said: 'We could easily have walked away after the original decision went against us. However, I believe we're doing the right thing by not giving up.'

Varnish's lawyer Simon Fenton also spoke on the decision and the culture of bullying previously within British Cycling.

'This is a small, but important, step in holding British Cycling to account for its treatment of Jess during her cycling career and its abrupt and unfair ending,' Fenton said.

'Although this is a small victory, it is significant in light of the revelations from the Freeman case which raised questions of serious bullying at the heart of British Cycling.'

When reheard, the appeal could immediately reverse the decision of the first hearing or order a new tribunal to take place.