Cycling

Former Great Britain swimming coach Bill Sweetenham, pictured, says Shane Sutton deserved a 'slap on the wrist' for his alleged sexist comments. .

Bill Sweetenham: Shane Sutton should have been given "slap on the wrist"

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Former British Swimming chief Bill Sweetenham believes Shane Sutton should have received a "slap on the wrist" over allegations of sexism and inappropriate remarks which cost him his job as British Cycling performance director last week.

Sutton resigned from his post on Wednesday, one day after being suspended pending an investigation into allegations made against him by a number of Olympic and Paralympic athletes including Jess Varnish and Darren Kenny.

Sweetenham, who steered British swimmers to unprecedented World Championship success before resigning in 2007 shortly after being cleared of bullying allegations of his own, insisted Sutton's supposed remarks must be put into context.

Sweetenham told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek: "I think Shane may be feeling the pressure of going into his first Olympics as the head man, and that is going to bring a lot of tests for him.

"(He may have) done something inappropriate but not that inappropriate that it could ruin the results of British Cycling at the Olympics.

"You've got a man 100 days out from the Olympics. Slap him on the wrist if you have to, but keep him in position to get the job done."

The 58-year-old Sutton strongly denies all charges made against him, but decided not to fight his suspension. British Cycling programmes director Andy Harrison has been put in temporary charge of the Olympic programme.

Sweetenham said he believes it is essential that top coaches push boundaries and that it is inevitable that in the course of seeking to inspire athletes to hit ever-greater heights, the lines of acceptability become blurred.

A long-time friend of Sutton, Sweetenham added: "Shane is an outstanding and excellent coach and with any coaches they are going to push boundaries very hard and do things to motivate athletes - and on occasion to push the limits.

"There will be times when you push the boundaries too hard, and perhaps this is one of those moments for Shane."

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