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Volume 7 No. 149
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Jess Varnish's Case Against British Cycling Threatens Athletes' Grants

Jessica Varnish
Photo: getty images
Jessica Varnish
Photo: getty images
Jessica Varnish
Photo: getty images

A "ground-breaking legal case" that begins next week could lead to more than 200 Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls losing their funding, according to Robert Dineen of the London TELEGRAPH. Former track cyclist Jessica Varnish is "attempting to sue British Cycling for discrimination in a court action that could have profound consequences for the country’s elite athletes." The case rests on Varnish’s legal team proving in the employment status hearing with UK Sport that she had employee rights, "rather than the distinct status given to nationally-funded athletes." Should Varnish’s team succeed in Manchester, sources close to the case expect that up to 20% of funded athletes "will have their grants cut." UK Sport supports around 1,100 potential Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Varnish is claiming "she suffered unfair dismissal, sexual discrimination, victimisation and detrimental treatment as a result of whistle-blowing" while part of the Olympic program. A source said, "The case could have profound consequences. Though what happens will depend on HMRC's response; if Jess Varnish was to win, it could force UK Sport to completely restructure its funding model" (TELEGRAPH, 12/1).