Jess Varnish, the former Great Britain track cyclist, has lost her landmark employment case against British Cycling and UK Sport.
Varnish began legal proceedings after claiming she was dropped from the British Cycling squad for the 2016 Rio Olympics in retaliation for criticising her coaches. She argued that she was in effect an employee of both British Cycling and UK Sport and therefore should be subject to certain protections under law – including sick pay, a pension and the right to sue for unfair dismissal.
Had she been successful at a hearing in Manchester last month, it could have had huge implications for the model that enables athletes to receive tax-free funding to pursue their Olympic dreams.
UK Sport said the judge's decision gave them "confidence" in the way relationships between athletes, governing bodies and itself are managed, but the body added it will "reflect on the concerns that were raised through this case".
28 year-old Varnish commented that she had no regrets and added ‘I am happy I was the catalyst for other athletes to speak up and challenge their coaches and organisations, to push for a better and fairer environment in which to excel.’
UK sport said that they have already taken action and will continue to strengthen the duty of care and welfare provided to athletes, ensuring that avenues for raising any concerns are effective and appropriate.
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