London - Great Britain's Cycling team was
thrown into turmoil after technical director Shane Sutton resigned on
Wednesday, just 100 days from the start of the Rio Olympics.
The 58-year-old Australian quit amid
allegations he had used sexist language towards female riders and made
derogatory comments to disabled cyclists in the Paralympic team.
He was suspended by British Cycling late on
Tuesday after it was alleged he had called Paralympic cyclists
That announcement came soon after British
Cycling launched an independent review into claims he had been sexist in his
treatment of Jess Varnish, with the sprinter saying he had told her to "go
and have a baby" after her contract was not renewed.
"It is absolutely crucial that, as our
athletes begin their final preparations for Rio, they are able to do so free of
distraction," said Sutton in his resignation statement.
"It is for this reason, and having
spoken to friends and family, that I believe it is in the best interests of
British Cycling for me to step down from my position as technical
He added he rejected all the claims made
against him and looked forward to taking a full part in the review process.
Sutton succeeded Dave Brailsford as British
Cycling chief in 2014, having previously guided the likes of Chris Hoy and
Bradley Wiggins to Olympic titles and helped the team win more than 30 medals
in London and Beijing across the Olympics and Paralympics.
He is not the only high-profile Australian
coach in British sport, with Trevor Bayliss in charge of the England men's
cricket team and compatriot Eddie Jones holding the equivalent role in rugby
But neither man had as far reaching a brief
as Sutton, who at British Cycling was working with able-bodied male and female
riders as well as the Paralympic team.
Brailsford, now in charge of the Team Sky
professional cycling team that competes in the Tour de France, said:
"Shane is one of the best tactical and technical coaches I have worked
with," adding his contribution to British Cycling's success "has been
Several female cyclists also spoke up for
Sutton, with Britain's Dani King, a London 2012 cycling gold medallist, telling
Tuesday's London Evening Standard: "Shane is a no-nonsense kind of guy.
But he was no-nonsense with the men as well as the women."
But Beijing gold medallist Nicole Cooke
wrote in the Guardian: "I have my own personal experiences of Shane and sympathise
However, Cooke went on to suggest there was
a broader and deeper problem caused by "decades of inaction".
"Sexism spins all the way down from
the top to the bottom. Somewhere in the middle of this are Shane Sutton and
Those words were backed up by Team Sky
cyclist and double Olympic champion Geraint Thomas who, after praising Sutton's
contribution to his own career, wrote on Facebook: "The inequity issues
won't finish with Shane's resignation/investigation, there is a problem with
inequality in cycling as a whole that needs to be addressed."
Sutton was operating in an environment
where the amount of money each sport receives from national funding agency UK
Sport depends mainly on their chances of podium success.
But Malaysian cyclist Joseph Ng, who said
Sutton had called him "Boatie" - a reference to people sailing from
Asia to seek asylum in Australian - told Britain's Press Association: "I
don't think he has adjusted to modern society."