LONDON (Reuters) – Former British cyclist Jess Varnish’s employment tribunal appeal against the sport’s national governing body has been dismissed, it was announced on Tuesday.
Former European team sprint champion Varnish was dropped from the national squad before the 2016 Rio Olympics, after which she claimed she should have been considered an employee of British Cycling or the funding agency UK Sport.
The initial employment tribunal in January 2019 found against Varnish, although she won the right to appeal.
“The (original) tribunal was entitled to conclude, based on an evaluative judgment taking account of all relevant factors, that the claimant was not an employee or a worker,” appeal judge Mr Justice Choudhury ruled.
“The tribunal had not erred in its approach to the assessment of employee status and nor had it reached conclusions that no reasonable tribunal, properly directed, could have reached.”
Had the 29-year-old Varnish won her appeal, she would have opened up the possibility of a wrongful dismissal and sexual discrimination case against British Cycling and UK Sport.
Varnish originally said she had been told to “go off and have a baby” by former British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton, who resigned after the allegations.
In a statement British Cycling said it had tried to reach a resolution with Varnish, but emphasised its relationship with athletes was supportive.
“We believe that British Cycling’s relationship with riders who represent this country is not one of employer-employee but that of an organisation supporting dedicated athletes to fulfil their potential,” it said.
“Since Jess raised her concerns about the Great Britain Cycling Team in 2016, we have implemented significant changes to the culture and processes of our high-performance programme.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman, editing by Ed Osmond and Christian Radnedge)