British Cycling stands by decision to drop Jess Varnish from podium programme

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British Cycling has stood by its decision to drop Jess Varnish from the podium programme, Press Association Sport understands.

Varnish's omission from the squad in April sparked a row which ended with the departure of British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton amid denied claims of bullying.

The 25-year-old repeated her desire in a statement on Tuesday to ride for Team GB at the Rio Olympics and questioned the objectiveness of the decision to drop her from the squad.

Varnish has blamed coaching staff for her failure to qualify with Katy Marchant for the team sprint in Rio, and she met British Cycling's new technical director Andy Harrison in Manchester on Friday to discuss the situation.

But Press Association Sport understands that British Cycling stood by its decision to drop Varnish from the podium programme during the meeting.

The decision means Varnish's hopes of competing in Rio appear slim, although the team has yet to be picked and the selection criteria does not omit non-programme riders from being chosen.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Sutton said Varnish was "too old" and there was "no point wasting" any more government funding on her.

Varnish, however, hit back in an explosive interview with the Daily Mail, saying Sutton had told her she was "too fat" and should "go and have a baby".

Sutton denied the allegations but was later forced to resign and, since then, Varnish has been training at her own expense in Australia.

Varnish, in a statement posted on her website on Tuesday and trailing her meeting with Harrison, said: "My immediate priority is to win back my place on the British Cycling team, ahead of the 2016 Olympic Games, and to prove that I was, and still am, good enough to win medals for Great Britain.

"I still maintain that the decision not to renew my contract was not down to performance.

"Prior to the 2016 World Championships I was not once told that I was under-performing.

"We have monthly reviews and at no stage was I put under review, or set performance targets to keep my place on the programme.

"The first I knew that the coaches had an issue with my performance levels, or training data, was 5 days after the 2016 World Championships, when I was told I wouldn't be getting a new contract over the phone."

Varnish, who has won seven medals for Great Britain since 2010, also revealed that she has spoken to British Cycling and UK Sport, the government agency that funds British elite sport, about the allegations of bullying that she made last month, and she has stood by them.

British Cycling had said Varnish was dropped for entirely objective, performance-related reasons, and that it has shared those with her.

A British Cycling spokesman said in a statement on Tuesday: "The selection criteria for Rio 2016 were agreed with the British Olympic Association and the British Paralympic Association before being published on the British Cycling website in 2014.

"We cannot comment on the chances of any individual hoping to be selected for either the Olympics or the Paralympics before the relevant selection panels meet."

It is expected that Varnish will make another statement updating the situation after the weekend.

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