Cycling
ESPN staff 14d

Former Olympian Jess Varnish suing UK Sport and British Cycling

Olympic Sports, Cycling

Former Olympian Jess Varnish is suing UK Sport and and British Cycling over claims that the 26-year-old cyclist suffered sexual discrimination, victimisation and detriment for whistleblowing. 

After winning two bronze medals for England in the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Varnish was dropped from British Cycling's elite programme last year, with the 2012 Olympian alleging that she was told to 'go and have a baby' by former British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton, who later resigned.

Varnish threatened to take action against British Cycling back in March, but she has now decided to extend legal proceeding to UK Sport as well. 

A hearing early next year will look at whether Varnish should have been considered to have been an employee of UK Sport and British Cycling while in the elite programme. Athletes are not currently considered to be members of staff, so the governing bodies avoid paying pensions and national insurance costs. 

A source told the BBC: "She's not doing this for money. She's frustrated that neither UK Sport nor British Cycling have changed the grey situation that athletes still remain in.

"Athletes still have no real rights, no pensions, no grievance and whistleblower procedures, and no course of action, outside of civil action. There are some really deep-rooted issues which she's passionate about."

UK Sport and British Cycling were unavailable for comment. 

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