Track sprinter Jess Varnish is dropped from the British Cycling Olympic programme, but not because she criticised the coaches

British Cycling insists Jess Varnish has been dropped from the Olympic programme based on her recent performances, not because of her scathing criticism of the coaches at the Track World Championships in March.

Having been part of the team sprint squad that failed to qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympics, Varnish gave a television interview criticising the selection policy for events over the qualifying period, saying there was “no real plan”.

>>> GB women’s team sprint squad fails to qualify for Rio

But BC’s technical director Shane Sutton insists the 25-year-old has been dropped from the programme because her performances weren’t up to the required level, saying she isn’t in a position to win a medal at the August Games.

“Jess is 25,” he told the Telegraph‘s Tom Cary. “She has been with us a long, long time. She qualified 17th in the match sprint [in London] so her chances of medalling in Rio were very very slim if not none. And she hasn’t gone as quick as she went three years ago.

“So the trajectory has been that way [down] not that way [up]. There is no point carrying on and wasting UK Sport’s money on someone who is not going to medal going forward.”

Sutton also said that Varnish wasn’t just dropped from the programme out of the blue, but that her contract “was up for renewal and we didn’t renew it”.

>>> ‘Team sprint women have not been good enough,’ says Shane Sutton after Jess Varnish criticism

Varnish’s departure now opens the door for former heptathlete Katy Marchant to take the second sprint place in Rio, joining Becky James – who was absent for much of the team sprint qualifying campaign.

Marchant won four titles at the track National Championships in 2015, but Sutton said she was not guaranteed selection for the Olympics.

“If we believe she can do well there then we will take her,” he said. “If not then we won’t actually take up the option of that second spot.”

  • freespeech11

    should have increased your dosages.oh well

  • Derek Biggerstaff

    “Employer”? I’d no idea SS paid JVs wages.

  • Derek Biggerstaff

    Is he in a position to do anything about you criticising him?

  • Michael

    Well no, it’s the guy who was a coach for a decade while David Brailsford oversaw the transformation you describe.

    I’d suggest the evidence of 3 tour de France wins shows where the nous lay.

    I strongly suspect the Peter principle has occurred.

  • Michael

    It’s called “To serve TeamGB” but “It’s a Cooke book!”

  • Michael

    I have so far.

    He’s obviously good at what he did when Brailsford was there, but he’s not up to the task Sir B performed.

    Although the existing talent in team GB and old hands like Wiggins and Cav may well win regardless, it doesn’t bode well for the long term if they don’t find someone else to run things.

    That said, of course, Jess’s outburst and her poor performance were one and the same thing, so there really isn’t a question of which led to her demise.

    Had she been flying high and qualified she wouldn’t have moaned about the earlier sessions to the press.

  • Andrew Jones

    During those 10 years David Brailsford was in charge, when David Brailsford left Shane Sutton was promoted to the position of Technical Director. Dave Brailsford had a very long term plan which is what got British Cycling to where it is, he would have filled every space to get the team experience knowing that experience in 2016 is invaluable to a potential medal winner in 2020. Shane Sutton does not have that plan, he’s a coach, his job has always been to focus on the next big event. BC needs someone in charge with a long term vision not someone who’s plan does not go beyond Rio.

  • Dan Cole

    “is not acting in the best interest of British Cycling’s long term future”

    Is that the same Shane Sutton who has overseen 10 years where British Cycling has gone from also-rans to world beaters? And where Olympic/world titles are expected and not a pipe-dream?

    I imagine the guy can be pretty difficult to work with and has probably lost some talents along the way. But you can’t deny his and BC success over the years.

  • reece46

    It wasn’t pre-Sutton, Sutton has been there since the Cooke days you are talking about and BC talent program.

  • Giles Cudmore

    By the sounds of it Lizzie Armistead would have being a champion at whatever she did, BC did well with that program, wonder if it still going though as it was pre-Sutton of course.

  • reece46

    Or, ask the current road World Champ, who had no experience of competition until spotted at school on a BC program. I think you’re mixing personal needle between Cooke family/Brailsford/Sutton and misogyny.

  • Andrew Jones

    Shane Sutton has chosen to fill just 2 of the 5 BMX slots for Rio and has not selected Tre Whyte. there is a petition on change dot org “Micheal Pusey MBE: Reverse British Cycling decision” to try and put pressure on British Cycling. Even if we don’t have 5 medal prospects for 2016 we should be looking at getting experience for riders for 2020.
    It does seem that a lot of the decisions that were handled by other people have all ended up being made by Shane Sutton and while he’s a great coach he’s a disastrous team manager and is not acting in the best interest of British Cycling’s long term future.

  • John Westwell

    Indeed. If I went to the press and criticised my employer in public, I’d expect to be promoted.

    Or perhaps not.

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    Indeed. Her Dad gave me quite some insight 10 years back.

  • Richard

    Speak truth to power and feel the consequences!

  • Giles Cudmore

    Read Nicole Cooke’s book for an insight into how British Cycling treat women.

  • Rupert the Super Bear

    Sutton himself will go one day.

  • roddders

    Was she going to get a podium place in Rio? she couldn’t get one at the worlds. Brave decision by BC but they are all about results and the athletes all know that.

  • Derek Biggerstaff

    Does anyone get away with criticising Sutton?

  • hailpantani

    Fair point re. Reade, Bruce. Someone who flits in and out is surely not that committed. But the brutal facts are that the times aren’t there, and if you really want to shine at the Olympics, you have to do much better than Jess did at a World’s based in your home country. You might say that an athlete is aiming to peak at the Olympics, but athletes who medalled at this year’s World’s will medal at this year’s Olympics too.

  • Bruce Daly

    If you believe that Jess was dropped for performance reasons, then let me tell you – Father Christmas (and the tooth fairy) really exist! Jess goes, but Shanaze Read stays – really? Katy Marchant relegated to the Academy after press outburst? Let me guess who’s behind all this…….