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Varnish wants British Cycling board to go

Press Association logoPress Association 11/03/2017

Jess Varnish wants to see members of the British Cycling board ousted if it is shown they reversed the findings of an internal investigation into her removal from the governing body's elite program.

A draft version of the report - leaked to the Daily Mail - from an independent review into British Cycling's "culture and climate" accuses the board of "sanitising" and even "reversing" the findings of British Cycling director Alex Russell's internal probe, in an attempt to clear former technical director Shane Sutton.

Varnish had accused Sutton of using sexist language towards her when he told her of her release, saying she was told to "go and have a baby" - claims he denies.

Within days of Varnish making her allegations, other former riders had come forward to make similar allegations and Sutton, an Australian with a matter-of-fact approach, resigned.

"I'm not surprised. I had absolutely no faith in the investigation from the get go," Varnish said, in an interview with BBC News.

"Now there needs to be changes. These people can't be still in there if they've reversed facts.

"They can't still be able to be on that board."

If Varnish's demands were met the new chairman of British Cycling, Jonathan Browning, would be affected given he was on the board at the time of Russell's investigation.

The draft report leaked on Friday delivered a damning indictment of "dysfunctional" and "inept" leadership overseeing a program in which a "culture of fear" exists, where dissenting voices are shown the door, and bullying and sexism is tolerated.

Already months late, the inquiry's publication is being held up by a process known as Maxwellisation, a legal procedure that gives individuals criticised in an inquiry the right of reply.

Varnish said she had been surprised the report had been leaked but was not surprised by its contents and was "relieved" that "the truth is coming out".

"One minute they're saying the board are saying that they believe me, the next minute I'm receiving a letter and a knock at the door saying it's reversed," Varnish said.

"Just to get this and see that it's a cover up is huge."

Varnish said Sutton should not be allowed to work in cycling again. The 59-year-old coach recently missed out on the role of performance director for Cycling Australia - a job that instead went to Team Sky's Simon Jones.

A statement released on Friday evening on behalf of the Cycling Independent Review Panel, British Cycling and UK Sport expressed disappointment that the report had been leaked before it was finalised, and said there would be no further comment until the report was completed and published.

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