Becky James and Katy Marchant stand up for controversial coach Shane Sutton


Olympic medallists Becky James and Katy Marchant would welcome Shane Sutton back to the fold as British Cycling boss, despite his resignation in April over allegations of discrimination.

Sutton quit 100 days prior to the Olympic Games in Rio after Jess Varnish and multiple Paralympic champion Darren Kenny levelled accusations of discrimination at him, which he denies.

The culture of British Cycling is subject to an independent review which is scheduled to conclude after next month's Paralympics.

James and Marchant said they had never experienced the gender discrimination Varnish alleged - she claimed Sutton told her to "go and have a baby" - and attributed Britain's haul of 11 medals at the Rio Velodrome, six gold, four silvers and one bronze, to the foundations he laid when technical director.

James said: "I've never experienced that. Shane was a massive supporter of me. I can't thank him enough for what he did for me."

Marchant was a team-mate of Varnish in the two-woman, two-lap team sprint squad which at London's Track World Championships in March failed to qualify for Rio.

That was the catalyst for a period of events which led to Sutton quitting, he said, to avoid being a distraction in the lead-up to Rio.

"It was really tough," said Marchant, who thought her Olympic dream had ended.

Varnish was dropped from the Olympic programme, before Sutton made her status public, and she responded. Further allegations, including from Kenny who claimed Sutton called para-cyclists "gimps", followed. Sutton was suspended, before quitting.

James and Marchant are prepared to speak to the panel conducting the independent review.

"There's nothing wrong with going in and saying how we feel about it," Marchant said.

"Also, if people have experienced it they're entitled to voice their opinions. It's a cut-throat sport, and elite sport is a tough place to be, but we choose to do it."

Shane Sutton
Controversial coach Shane Sutton has been credited by Becky James with helping her return from injury (Martin Rickett/PA)

James felt it was Sutton's support which allowed her to respond from more than a year out with a knee injury, which included a cancer scare.

The 24-year-old from Abergavenny returns from Rio with two silver medals, from the Keirin and sprint, when Marchant took bronze.

James added: "He was the one who believed in me. He believed in me more than I believed in myself."

And Sutton contacted James ahead of her races in Rio.

She added: "He just texted me telling me to believe in myself. It was just one word: 'Believe'. He has always been a great motivator."