Following allegations made by female Olympic and Paralympic cyclists around sexism and discrimination within British Cycling, Technical Director Shane Sutton has resigned.
Last night, British Cycling announced that an independent review would go ahead. This morning, it emerged that Sutton had been suspended whilst the investigation took place. This afternoon, Sutton announced his resignation.
Criticisms of his practices have poured in since sprinter Jess Varnish claimed he told her to “go and have a baby” when she was dropped from the team. Since then, Victoria Pendleton and Nicole Cooke, plus other female cyclists, have said they agree Sutton behaved in a sexist manner in his role. Paralympic athletes have claimed he refereed to them as “gimps” and “wobblies.”
Sutton says the decision to resign was made to allow the athletes to concentrate on the Olympic games, now 100 days away.
In a statement, he said: “Today starts the 100-day countdown to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. It is absolutely crucial that, as our athletes begin their final preparations for Rio, they are able to do so free of distraction.
“The developments over the past few days have clearly become a distraction. It is for this reason, and having spoken to friends and family, that I believe it is in the best interests of British Cycling for me to step down from my position as technical director.
“It is important that the review announced by British Cycling and UK Sport now takes place, and I will obviously co-operate fully with this. I have made clear that I reject the specific claims that have been made against me in recent days, and I look forward to taking a full part in the review process so I can respond to the allegations in detail.
“Cycling is my passion and I have always worked to get the very best out of professional athletes. I am proud of what British Cycling has achieved and I am excited by the potential of the team for Rio. They will always have my full support.”
Adding to the comments, British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake said: “I want to put on record my thanks to Shane for his work with British Cycling and the part he has played in our success. We have a lot to be proud of and, with the Olympics and Paralympics this summer, a lot to look forward to.
“I understand and respect Shane’s decision to stand down. His primary focus has always been the athletes, and this decision is something he has taken to allow them to focus on their preparation for Rio. Andy Harrison, programmes director at British Cycling, will be taking over with immediate effect and will manage the team in the build-up to Rio 2016.
“As we announced yesterday, we are now putting in place an independent review with UK Sport so that we can investigate the allegations that have been raised in recent days about the culture within the Great Britain Cycling Team. We continue to be committed to promoting equality of opportunity and providing a supportive environment within British Cycling.”
The independent review will now take place and Sutton will be replaced by Programmes Director, Andy Harrison.