Varnish still hopeful of place on British Cycling team for Rio

Reuters News
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Posted: May 17, 2016 5:32 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Jess Varnish, the rider at the heart of discrimination claims that have rocked British Cycling, says she is determined to win back her place in the track team for the Rio Olympics.

The former European team sprint champion was dropped by technical director Shane Sutton who subsequently resigned after Varnish claimed he had made sexist comments towards her.

Australian Sutton was also alleged to have made derogatory comments about para-cyclists, prompting British Cycling to launch an independent review of its performance programs.

Sutton, who along with former technical director Dave Brailsford, was a key figure in Britain's rise to become a cycling superpower, has denied the allegations.

Varnish, currently training in Australia, said she had not given up hope of making the team.

"My immediate priority is to win back my place on the British Cycling team, ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, and to prove that I was, and still am, good enough to win medals for Great Britain," she said in a statement on Tuesday.

"I have reached out to the new Performance Director at British Cycling, Andy Harrison, and will meet with him on my return to the UK."

Varnish was dropped after the world championships in London where she finished fifth in the team sprint and missed out on Olympic qualification.

After that race she was critical of British Cycling's selection policy.

"I still maintain that the decision not to renew my contract was not down to performance," Varnish said.

"I hope that on hearing my case, and with the knowledge that I have been doing the best I can under the circumstances to maintain my fitness on the track, Andy Harrison and British Cycling will give me the chance to get back on the British cycling program ahead of selection for Rio."

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ian Ransom)