This week there’s been tons in the news about British Cycling and discrimination, particularly relating to allegations of sexism, saying a rider’s too old to race at 25, and most recently, discrimination against para-cyclists. This started when British Cycling talked to the Telegraph about dropping sprinter Jess Varnish from the programme – which wasn’t a surprise, as she had voiced her frustrations about how BC had handled the Team Sprint, when GB failed to qualify at the 2016 Track World Championships. Varnish’s issue then was the choices BC had made about the teams they put into races for the Olympic Qualifying period, and so BC’s sacking her was expected at the time.
She then responded, and what was surprising is that she’s alleged to have been told to “go off and have a baby”, and that at 25 she’s too old to improve. It was followed by British Cycling’s Performance Director, Shane Sutton, denying that in the media – and some great pieces by former Olympic and World Champions Nicole Cooke and Victoria Pendleton speaking out in defense of Varnish, Varnish’s official statement, and an interview talking about a ‘culture of fear‘ at BC, an interesting comment from Lizzie Armitstead, a piece on the MTB issues from Jenny Copnall and then (Daily Mail link) Para-cyclist Darren Kenny and “multiple sources” talking about offensive language and behaviour towards Para-cyclists – which lead to Sutton’s suspension, and then resignation.
Update! Olympic Champion Rebecca Romero also talked about the toxic velodrome atmosphere
So that’s this week! But this is very much part of a pattern. While big name men like Bradley Wiggins have come out defending Sutton, and track superstar Laura Trott doing the same, this is part of a LONG pattern of top-name women talking about their bad experiences with British Cycling and their approach to women’s cycling (whether they use the word “sexism” or not), and Shane Sutton.