British Cycling chief executive Ian Drake insists he was not aware of the allegations of discrimination towards para-cyclists which prompted Shane Sutton’s suspension and resignation.
Sutton stood down as technical director on Wednesday, while denying the claims of discrimination which will now be investigated in an independent review.
Sutton was suspended by British Cycling the previous day after it was claimed he called Paralympic cyclists “gimps”, shortly after an independent review was announced into claims of sexism made by female rider Jess Varnish.
Two separate sources have told Press Association Sport that Drake was aware of claims of bullying and discrimination against Sutton and did not act.
Drake said on Friday: “I have never been made aware, formally or informally, of any allegation that Shane Sutton had used the offensive term ‘gimps’ in reference to Paralympic athletes prior to the media reports of the past few days.
“The suggestion that I would have not acted on such an allegation is wholly wrong.”
An internal performance review conducted after the London 2012 Olympic Games included interviews of more than 40 riders and staff.
But the post-London 2012 report, written by Peter King, Drake’s predecessor as the organisation’s chief executive until 2008, was not published or made available to senior personnel. It remains confidential.
British Cycling said the report would be made available in the independent review process.
It is understood the terms of Sutton’s severance prevent him from working for a rival team at the Rio Olympics.
Sutton was often linked with jobs elsewhere, most recently after the London 2012 Olympics, but insisted he would be going nowhere and pointed to his long-standing affiliation to British and Welsh cycling.
Britain won eight gold medals at the 2008 Olympics and 2012 Games – claiming seven out of 10 events on the track at each Games – when Sir Dave Brailsford was performance director and Sutton his right-hand man as head coach. Britain won 25 more golds in the 2008 and 2012 Paralympics.
Sutton was named technical director of British Cycling, succeeding Brailsford, in April 2014. He joined the organisation from Welsh Cycling in 2002.
It has emerged Sutton did not declare that he was still an employee of Team Sky, the British road team run by Brailsford and with close links to British Cycling, when he took on the role.
Drake, in a BBC interview on Wednesday evening, answered “no” when asked if Sutton was still employed by Team Sky.
Sutton, who was unavailable for comment on Thursday, left his role as Team Sky head coach in January 2013, but is still employed in an advisory role.
The role could be perceived as nepotism as Brailsford and Sutton have enjoyed a long and successful working relationship and are good friends.
However, British Cycling had no concerns over Sutton’s work for them and Team Sky employs numerous British riders who also compete for Great Britain.
Team Sky said on Thursday that Sutton’s position has not been a secret – but they would not disclose his remuneration and further details of his employment.
The relationship between Team Sky and British Cycling was subject of a review by auditors Deloitte, published in March 2011, which identified “no major risks”.
It has been a week to forget for British Cycling, with news also emerging on Thursday night that one of the country’s brightest prospects Simon Yates had failed a drugs test.
However, the sport’s world governing body the UCI says he will not be provisionally suspended after it emerged the failed test was caused by an administrative error by his team, Orica-GreenEdge, which did not ensure the substance in question – contained in asthma medication – was covered by a therapeutic use exemption certificate.
Also on Thursday, British Cycling denied high-performance equipment provided by UK Sport has been sold on for profit.
UK Sport, the funding body which distributes lottery cash to Olympic and Paralympic sports, instructed British Cycling to carry out an investigation after it was alleged skinsuits and bikes, worth in the region of ?10,000 each, had been made available to the highest bidder.
A British Cycling statement read: “No kit or equipment provided by UK Sport is, or has ever been, given away or sold on for profit, or has even left the National Cycling Centre, in Manchester.”