Former Great Britain cycling team technical director Shane Sutton accepts that it will be impossible for him to return to a role with British Cycling after the governing body found he had been guilty of discrimination against track sprinter Jess Varnish – allegations the 59-year-old Australian continues to strongly deny.
Speaking to Telegraph Sport, Sutton said he was likely to carry out more work in his consultancy role with Team Sky, and may also coach individual Great Britain riders on a one-to-one basis. But he also said that he had attracted interest from other countries eager to replicate the nation’s success.
“I’m adamant that I am innocent,” Sutton insisted. “I have definitely never overstepped the mark with Jess Varnish or any other athlete.”
The internal inquiry is separate to a review of the culture at British Cycling ordered by UK Sport after Sutton’s resignation in April, which followed claims of discrimination made not only by Varnish, but also by para-cyclist Darren Kenny.
“I’m massively disappointed,” Sutton said. “I put my trust in [the investigation]. I have gone back to them now and asked for the supporting evidence to try to understand how they have arrived at this conclusion.”
Referring to Varnish’s allegations that Sutton told her to go and have a baby and made disparaging comments about her physique, Sutton said: “I’m totally adamant that no conversations took place of that nature and that’s why I’ve asked for the supporting evidence.
“As far as I’m concerned there were two people in this conversation. So where is the evidence that this conversation, these comments took place? There is no proof.”
Saying that he would take time to reflect on the decision and whether he should appeal against it or even take legal action, he went on: “One party in all of this has been proved to have told untruths and that party wasn’t me.”
Sutton, who took over the helm of the national team after Sir Dave Brailsford’s departure in early 2014, confirmed that he had received overtures from other countries.
He said: “It’s possibly time now to have a look at a few of them. I am actually in discussions with some people right now, which has happened virtually overnight. That’s about all I can say at the moment.”
He added: “It’s just a shame it has ended like this but it has been a fantastic journey, there have been fantastic people who I have worked with, some incredible athletes. All of them. The Hoys, the Wiggins, the Cavendishes, the Pendletons, the Cookes. Absolutely fantastic to have been part of.
“You don’t spend the amount of time we did together, and go on the journey which we have been on, without having great memories.”
The two female world and Olympic champions that Sutton cites do not have such fond memories of working alongside him – in the wake of his resignation in April, both Nicole Cooke and Victoria Sutton said they backed Varnish, and had themselves suffered from similar discrimination.
One country looking to shake up its backroom line-up following a disappointing Rio Olympics is Sutton’s native Australia, where is brother Gary is coach to the women’s track endurance squad.
There is currently a vacancy for performance director with the Australian national team following Kevin Tabotta’s departure in the wake of Rio, where the team won one silver and one bronze medal.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.