Katy Marchant: I never had a problem with the culture at British Cycling

Tom Cary
Katy Marchant - Getty Images South America

It was the interview that launched a thousand inquiries, cost her then team mate Jess Varnish her place on the GB squad, and ultimately led to the departure of British Cycling’s technical director Shane Sutton amid explosive allegations of bullying and sexism.

Twelve months on, however, Katy Marchant – who was as scathing as Varnish about British Cycling coaches in the aftermath of the duo’s failure to qualify for a team sprint place for Rio 2016 – insists she has “experienced nothing but happy things really” within the world-class performance programme and has “never had a problem” with the culture in Manchester.

Marchant’s comments may come as a surprise to those who remember her incendiary remarks after she and Varnish finished fifth at the London track worlds last year, narrowly losing out to France in the battle to secure Olympic qualification.

Varnish and Marchant blamed their failure on British Cycling coaches experimenting with other less-proven riders earlier in the qualification process.

Jess Varnish launched a scathing attack on British Cycling Credit: REX FEATURES

“A lot of frustration, disappointment, disappointed in the organisation," Marchant said at the time, fighting back tears. "We’re in this position through decisions of other people, not through any fault of our own."

Speaking ahead of this week’s UCI Track World Championships in Hong Kong, where she will compete in the sprint, the 500m TT and the keirin, Marchant insisted those remarks were limited to the Olympic qualifying process itself, adding she did not recognise any of the issues subsequently flagged up by Varnish.

“100 per cent,” she said. “I had never had a problem with the culture. Obviously at the world champs last year there was a lot of disappointment, and there were some heated moments. Things got expressed maybe not the way that they should.

“But as soon as I got back to training after the World Championships, I changed my focus from the team sprint and took it on to the individual events. And I tend to be a very focused person so I don’t find it difficult to block things out and move on.”

According to a leaked draft of the controversial independent inquiry into the culture within British Cycling, Varnish’s subsequent removal from the programme was “an act of retribution” for her remarks in that same interview.

Shane Sutton was forced out as British Cycling's technical director Credit: AFP

Marchant, though, survived, going on to win a bronze medal in the individual sprint in Rio.

And the 24 year-old, who switched from heptathlon four years ago, partly at the instigation of her former coach, Toni Minichiello, said she just wanted to put the experience behind her now, adding that she had not even given any evidence to the independent review as she felt she had “nothing to say” to the five-man panel.

Callum Skinner, meanwhile, said he felt it was time to “draw a line” under the controversy.

“I think the important thing is that going forward - as Katy said - it feels now like we’re in a happy place and the sport is moving forward for the better,” said the Scot, who won Olympic gold in the team sprint and silver in the individual sprint in Rio but who will limit himself to the individual sprint and potentially the kilo this week.

“And what I would encourage anyone who continues to speak out [to do] is to come down and see what the atmosphere is like now.

“I don’t think there’s a need for a continual cycle of review after review after review. I think it’s just good to draw a line under it, make the changes that are necessary and move forward.”

The UCI Track World Championships begin on Wednesday and conclude on Sunday.

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