Shane Sutton steps down from British Cycling role

Andy Harrison takes over as Australian quits post to allow riders distraction-free preparation for Rio Olympics

Shane Sutton has stepped down as British Cycling’s technical director following allegations of discrimination.

Australian-born Sutton, 58, was suspended following public accusations of sexism made against him by Jessica Varnish and of further discrimination towards para-cyclists by Darren Kenny.

– Read more… Shane Sutton suspended amid discrimination claims –

His suspension was pending an inquiry into claims he had told Varnish to ‘go and have a baby’ amid other allegations, and referred to para-cyclists as ‘gimps’ and ‘wobblies’.

Sutton, however, has stepped down from his role with just 100 days to go until the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in order to allow the riders to concentrate on their final preparations ‘without distraction’.

Sutton, right, is alleged to have called para-cyclists ‘gimps’ and ‘wobblies’ (pic: Alex Whitehead/

“It is absolutely crucial that, as our athletes begin their final preparations for Rio, they are able to do so free of distraction,” he said in a short statement, published on the British Cycling website.

“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.”

Sutton took over from Sir Dave Brailsford just two years ago, after the Team Sky supremo – who led British Cycling to phenomenal Olympic track success in recent years – opted to focus fully on his commitments with Team Sky.

In the wake of the allegations leveled against him, Sutton found support from riders such as Laura Trott – who claimed she had only had a positive experience working with the Australian.

But others came forward, some anonymously, with claims of more discrimination and Sutton’s resignation was confirmed less than 24 hours after the internal inquiry was announced.

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.

Jess Varnish claims Sutton told her to ‘go and have a baby’ (pic: Alex Broadway/

“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.”

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