British Cycling has been accused of "sanitising" the report into Jess Varnish’s allegations of discrimination against Shane Sutton ©Getty Images

British Cycling has been accused of "sanitising" the report into Jess Varnish’s allegations of discrimination against its former technical director Shane Sutton in an unpublished independent review into the organisation’s world-class performance programme.

The review, which the Daily Mail claims to have seen, also accuses the governing body of allowing a "culture of fear", including the bullying of riders and staff, to grow as well as the emergence of "dysfunctional leadership".

The latest revelations come on the same day that Team Sky principal Sir Dave Brailsford said he had no plans to resign from the post.

In October, British Cycling upheld an allegation that Sutton had used inappropriate and discriminatory language towards Varnish, a three-time World Championship medallist. 

The sprinter had claimed that Sutton had told her she was "too old" and that she should "go and have a baby" when telling the 26-year-old that her contract was not to be renewed.

Varnish claimed to have been dropped from the performance programme following a review, which took place after she had criticised coaches’ selections having missed out on a team sprint berth at last year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Following a further allegation by six-time Paralympic champion Darren Kenny that he had made derogatory remarks, Sutton resigned last April from the post he had held since 2014.

It was concluded, however, that only one of the nine charges Varnish made against Sutton had been proven.

The leaked review supposedly states that British Cycling's grievance officer Alex Russell found "considerably more" of Varnish’s claims had been proven, but those findings failed to appear in the final report.

The panel say that as a result "it appears that not only did the British Cycling board not accept the findings of its grievance officer, it reversed them".

It is also reported that the panel believes there is a "culture of fear" at British Cycling and adequate levels of leadership and governance is lacking at both the highest level of the organisation and on the world-class performance programme.

The panel also believes that Sir Dave, who resigned as performance director of British Cycling in April 2014 when he left to concentrate on his role with Team Sky, and Sutton were given too much power and had too much free rein of the organisation, giving birth to a "dysfunctional leadership structure".

British Cycling and Team Sky under Sir Dave remain at the centre of a separate UK Anti-Doping investigation into a "mystery package" delivered for Sir Bradley Wiggins at the 2011 Criterium du Dauphine.

The pursuit of medals and the subsequent levels of funding from UK Sport is also claimed to have had "a blinding effect, causing clear behavioural and cultural issues to be ignored", the unpublished report claimed.

British Cycling upheld an allegation that former technical director Shane Sutton used inappropriate and discriminatory language towards Jess Varnish, leading to him resigning in April 2016 ©Getty Images
British Cycling upheld an allegation that former technical director Shane Sutton used inappropriate and discriminatory language towards Jess Varnish, leading to him resigning in April 2016 ©Getty Images

In a statement, British Cycling admits "specific shortcomings" exist but aims to deal with those issues in the near future.

"The Board of British Cycling recognises specific shortcomings in the governance of the organisation and especially within the world-class programme," read a British Cycling statement.

"The action plan, announced last week, was defined by the Board of British Cycling based on the draft findings of the independent review panel and agreed with UK Sport and Sport England.

"It will systematically address the cultural and behavioural shortcomings in the World Class Programme, as well as across the broader organisation.

"The issues within the world-class programme occurred at a time when it and, indeed the wider UK high performance system, were undergoing rapid transformation in terms of realising unprecedented medal success on the world stage.

"All stakeholders now accept that the world-class programme leadership focused on athlete performance and medal delivery without sufficient care and attention to the overall staff and athlete culture and environment and British Cycling leadership did not have adequate oversight and control of the world-class programme and consequently failed to adequately grasp and subsequently address the early warning signs.

"Despite the fact the board of British Cycling may disagree with the factual accuracy of certain points or commentary in the draft independent review, it has chosen to embrace the recommendations and findings and to use these to continue to develop its operating practices with clear, timed actions."

Led by Annamarie Phelps, the chairman of British Rowing and vice-chair of the British Olympic Association, the review was launched in April 2016 to look at any lessons the National Federation could learn.

A draft report was provided to UK Sport and British Cycling at the end of December 2016 and the findings and key recommendations were expected to be revealed last month, before it was delayed.

A date has still not been confirmed for the official publishing of the report but a statement issued on behalf of the relevant parties this evening claims they are "very disappointed" that the report was leaked.

"We, British Cycling, UK Sport and the Cycling Independent Review Panel, wish to emphasise that we are very disappointed that the unauthorised publication of a confidential draft report has occurred," the statement read.

"The publication of the draft report took place without our knowledge or authorisation and that the Cycling Independent Review Panel is yet to finalise the draft report, the contents of which may change, once the process of Maxwellisation has been completed.

"A covering email to all relevant participants expressly attaching the draft report reminded them that the draft was provided to them on a strictly confidential basis and was not to be used, disseminated or discussed other than for the purpose of a Maxwellisation process to allow anyone or body a fair opportunity to respond to draft criticisms before the report is reviewed, including possible changes being made, and then finalised.

"We will not make any further comment on the report’s status or contents until the Cycling Independent Review Panel's work is complete and a final report has been published."

Sir Dave Brailsford has ruled out resigning from Team Sky ©Getty Images
Sir Dave Brailsford has ruled out resigning from Team Sky ©Getty Images

Earlier today, Sir Dave reaffirmed his commitment to Team Sky and has refused to leave his position as the team's principal.

On Monday, several Team Sky riders showed their support for Sir Dave, but Chris Froome, the three-time Tour de France winner and the team's leading rider, remained noticeably quiet.

An article published by Cyclingnews  on Monday claimed that a number of Team Sky cyclists had talked about the possibility of approaching Sir Dave and asking him to step down.

"There is a concern over the impact that this may have on the current season and the distraction it is all causing for Dave Brailsford and the other management," a unnamed Team Sky rider told Cyclingnews.

"With a team that is so focused on details, things are starting to slip through the cracks because people's attentions are elsewhere.

"No one in the team, currently, is involved in this controversy other than Dave.

"What's it going to take for the team to get on with racing?"

That notion was far from the comments that Team Sky riders posted in support for Sir Dave, who has said today that he has no intention of standing down.

“Of course I’m not hiding," Sir Dave told Cycling News today.

"I’m fine in myself and I’ve got confidence in my team.

“My thoughts are about what’s good for the team and what’s right.

"We’re just here to win as many races as possible and do it the right way and that’s my primary concern and that’s what I think about."

When asked about Froome's thoughts, Sir Dave replied: “We had a good conversation, that’s it."