Jess Varnish to sue UK Sport and British Cycling for sex discrimination and bullying

Jess Varnish

Track sprinter Jess Varnish is suing UK Sport and British Cycling around sex discrimination, victimisation and unfair dismissal. 

The 26-year-old athlete will have her case heard at a preliminary employment tribunal in April next year.

Varnish claimed former technical director Shane Sutton had told her to “move on and get on with having a baby” after being dropped from British Cycling’s elite programme last year.

Sutton was cleared of eight out of nine allegations against Varnish, but was found to have used sexist language towards the sprinter.

According to reports, UK Sport applied to have Varnish’s case dismissed, including a costs order that would have led to her assets being seized during the case.

However this week a judge dismissed UK Sport’s application, stating they were ‘overly aggressive’.

Varnish will now proceed towards an employment tribunal to determine whether she was an employee of British Cycling and UK Sport and therefore more protected under the law.

UK Sport would then have to pay pension and national insurance costs to Varnish.

A source close to Varnish 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.”

A British Cycling spokesperson claimed the organisation was “in an ongoing and positive dialogue with Jess and look forward to reaching a resolution which all parties will regard as equitable”.

UK Sport told BBC Sport: “Because the legal process is still ongoing regarding Jess Varnish we are unable to comment on the issues mentioned at this time.”

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