Jess Varnish sues UK Sport and British Cycling
The track cyclist is taking legal action against UK Sports and British Cycling in what could be a landmark case for British athletes.
Former British Olympian cyclist Jess Varnish is suing British Cycling and UK Sport for sex discrimination, detriment for whistleblowing, victimization and unfair dismissal, reported the BBC on Friday.
The 26-year-old, who competed on the track in the 2012 London Games, was dropped from the British Cycling’s elite programme last year. After being ditched, Varnish accused ex-technical director Shane Sutton of using sexist language against her.
After these allegations, Sutton resigned but was later cleared of eight of nine allegations
Back in March, it was revealed that the cyclist was considering taking legal action against British Cycling. However, she has now decided to expand her claims to include UK Sport, which on Monday failed to get her case against it dismissed.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for April 2018, to determine if Varnish should be considered as having been effectively an employee of UK Sport and British Cycling when she was competing.
Where Varnish’s lawyers effectively prove that the she did have employee status, the case could have major implications for all UK Sport-funded athletes.
Currently, UK Sport avoids paying pension and national insurance costs, as it doesn't class athletes as employees.
'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,” told a source close to Varnish to the BBC.
'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.'
As the legal process is still ongoing, UK Sport said they were unable to comment.