International Cycling

Varnish vows to 'change culture' in sexism row

2016-04-26 17:57
Cycling (File)

London - Jess Varnish said she wanted to "change the culture" in British cycling as the accusations of sexist behaviour by team management won support on Tuesday from two-time Olympic gold medallist Victoria Pendleton.

Varnish issued a statement Tuesday restating allegations she had first made in an interview with the Daily Mail newspaper that Shane Sutton, the British team's Australian technical director, told her to "go and have a baby" after her contract was not renewed.

The 25-year-old Varnish was dropped from the British team for this year's Olympic Games in Rio after failing to qualify for the two-woman, two-lap team sprint alongside Katy Marchant.

Varnish also complained she had not been allowed to see detailed performance data and said comments made by Sutton in an interview with Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper proved she would not have a decent chance of regaining her place in the team.

"I want a fair chance to compete for my country. I feel that chance is being denied to me unfairly. I also want to change the culture at British Cycling and their treatment of women," she said Tuesday.

"When Shane Sutton gave his interview to the Telegraph discussing my situation I was devastated. He said in his interview that I was 'too old' and 'not worth wasting (funding agency) UK Sport's money'.

"It was at this point that I realised my career with British Cycling, in Shane Sutton's eyes, was over, and that I would never get a fair trial or opportunity to compete for Great Britain again while Shane is the performance director.

"The comment that Shane Sutton told me 'to go and have a baby' is true. I stand by all my statements in the Daily Mail interview and have examples of other comments made to me during my time at British Cycling by Shane Sutton dating back many years.

"At 25 years old I feel my best years are ahead of me. I also want to compete for Great Britain again. I am not too old. I am not a waste of UK Sport's money. I can win more medals."

Sutton has insisted Varnish was dropped purely on performance grounds and has denied making the "baby" comment, insisting he had acted with "complete professionalism" in all his dealings with the sprinter.

But Varnish's allegations were backed up by Pendleton, who retired after London 2012, in an interview published earlier on Tuesday in Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper.

"I would not be able to live with myself if I sat back and let people try to discredit (Varnish's) character. Not when I wholeheartedly believe her.

"My experiences were very similar. And I know exactly how miserable they made me.

"I never really felt I had the same respect as my male team-mates. My opinion wasn't worth as much."

In response, a British Cycling spokesman said: "A gold medal is valued by us, no matter who wins it, and we are equally proud of all our Olympic and world champions."

Read more on:    cycling


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live scoring

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2019/20 Absa Premiership season is in full swing. Will Mamelodi Sundowns retain their title? Or can one of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates, Wits, SuperSport United - or another team perhaps - snatch glory from the Brazilians? Be sure to visit Sport24 for all the latest news!

Latest blogs

Besides the 'Big 3' of rugby, cricket and soccer, which of the 'smaller' sports in South Africa do you enjoy the most?

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.