Jess Varnish wins right to appeal hearing in employment case against British Cycling
Varnish: "I want to give athletes an opportunity to hold to account employees of governing bodies [...] and have significant control over their careers"
Last Updated: 17/12/19 2:45pm
Jess Varnish has won the right to an appeal hearing in her employment case against British Cycling, the PA news agency understands.
Lawyers representing the former Olympic cyclist attended the Employment Appeals Tribunal in London on Tuesday and Justice Eady ruled that she did have the right to appeal against the decision made by a tribunal in January.
Varnish, who was controversially dropped from the programme for the 2016 Rio Olympics, argued she should be considered an employee of British Cycling or the funding agency UK Sport.
But the judge at the original tribunal agreed with the governing bodies that the lottery funding provided to athletes like Varnish made them more akin to students receiving grants than employees.
An initial written appeal following the tribunal was rejected on the basis there were no grounds of appeal but Tuesday's EAT hearing means a full appeal will now be heard, possibly in May.
That appeal hearing could either overturn the decision of the first tribunal, or order a new one to take place.
Varnish said in a statement: "I'd like to thank Simon Fenton, as well as David Reade QC and Lydia Banerjee of Littleton Chambers for their ongoing support.
"We could have easily walked away after the original decision went against us, however, I believe we're doing the right thing by not giving up.
"I want to give athletes an opportunity to hold to account employees of governing bodies, who they interact with on a daily basis, and have significant control over their careers and opportunities.
"I continue to think it's unfair that athletes still have no structured means to do this, and I hope this appeal will be the first step towards affecting change, and bring about a fairer, more modern, high performance system in the UK."
Former European track champion Varnish was dropped from the team shortly after she and Katy Marchant narrowly failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Games in the team sprint.
Both athletes criticised their coaches after their final race for mistakes made during qualification but only Varnish was left out with British Cycling claiming it was for performance reasons.
But soon after her exit was confirmed, Varnish claimed she had been told "to go and have a baby" by British Cycling's former technical director Shane Sutton.
If Varnish's legal team succeeds in overturning the original tribunal decision, she could sue British Cycling for discrimination. British Cycling would have the right to appeal if the initial decision is overturned.
A witness statement from former British Cycling doctor Richard Freeman, which was referenced last month at his own fitness-to-practise medical tribunal, alleged Sutton had asked Freeman to write a medical report justifying the Australian's decision to leave Varnish out of the 2016 Olympic programme.
Freeman's statement said he refused to do so.