Chris Boardman: Shane Sutton forced out of British Cycling by 'lynch mob'

Chris Boardman says the Shane Sutton saga was an exercise of "throwing mud at British Cycling and seeing what sticks"

Shane Sutton speaks to the media (Photo: CJ Farquharson)
(Image credit: CJ Farquharson)

Chris Boardman described Shane Sutton as being "passionate and right on the edge" and says the Australian was forced out of British Cycling as the media were behaving like a "lynch mob" in April.

Sutton resigned from his post as technical director at British Cycling after allegations of sexism and discrimination were made against him, notably from track sprinter Jess Varnish and para-cyclist Darren Kenny.

In an interview with The Times, Boardman, who worked alongside Sutton in his role as BC's head of research and development, says he doesn't agree with how the coach was portrayed during the process.

“Whether we got on or not — and we didn’t always get on — I thought it was a horrible trial by press for a week with just one side of the story,” he said.

“Shane’s behaviour was always passionate and right on the edge, Australian. It’s a really sad way to end a career of 20 years.

“It was a bit of lynch mob. Sexism, bullying, selection... it was throwing mud at British Cycling and seeing what sticks. And one individual held responsible for everything.”

Boardman subsequently told Cycling Weekly: "I don't condone bullying by individuals or the media and I think it's ironic how many are happy to bully someone – without trial – who's accused of bullying. That was my point and I resent it being twisted.

"Let the review process do its job, with facts and evidence, and then come to a reasoned decision. That's what civilised people are supposed to do."

An independent investigation has opened into the culture within British Cycling, chaired by Annamarie Phelps of British Rowing. Boardman says he welcomed the inquiry as an opportunity "to look and rebuild". Former England rugby head coach Stuart Lancaster is on the board, which will also look at allegations that lottery-funded equipment was being sold online.

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Stuart Clarke is a News Associates trained journalist who has worked for the likes of the British Olympic Associate, British Rowing and the England and Wales Cricket Board, and of course Cycling Weekly. His work at Cycling Weekly has focused upon professional racing, following the World Tour races and its characters.