British Cycling has announced the provisional suspension of technical director Shane Sutton, as it prepares to launch an independent investigation into complaints of discrimination. The decision comes after allegations of sexism from Jess Varnish, recently dropped from the Olympic podium programme, who said in an interview with the Daily Mail last Friday (22 April) that she was labelled as "too old" and told to "just move on and get on with having a baby".
Further accusations were levelled at Sutton last night, with another report from the Mail carrying fresh claims of discriminatory language used against British para-cyclists, who were allegedly referred to as "wobblies" and "gimps". That latest story featured quotes from former world and Paralympic champion Darren Kenny, who claimed that the attitude towards the team was "abysmal" and that they were "tolerated at best".
British Cycling announced a review into its performance programmes last night (27 April) and has now updated that statement in order to include the suspension of Sutton.
It reads: "British Cycling is announcing the formation of an independent review, in conjunction with UK Sport, of the federation's performance programmes following allegations of discriminatory behaviour.
"We are fully committed to the principles and active promotion of equality of opportunity and we must take any such allegations seriously. The terms of the review will be announced in due course and no further comment will be made at this stage.
"Following the announcement of an independent review into British Cycling's performance programmes, we are also announcing technical director Shane Sutton has been suspended pending an internal investigation into the allegations of discrimination that have been reported in the press."
Sutton - who was named technical director of British Cycling in April 2014 after Sir Dave Brailsford stood down in order to concentrate on his role as performance director with Team Sky - denies all allegations made against him.
Sutton previously insisted that the decision to drop Varnish was made after a performance review showed that her data "did not justify Jess retaining a lottery-funded place on the podium programme as an athlete with medal potential in this Olympic cycle or the next".