Phillips questions Varnish removal

Liam Phillips

Liam Phillips will be bidding for his first Olympic medal in Rio after crashing out of the 2012 final

British BMX rider Liam Phillips has questioned the removal of his girlfriend Jess Varnish from the Great Britain cycling squad.

Varnish, 25, was dropped in April after failing to qualify in the team sprint for this summer’s Rio Olympic Games.

She later said she was the victim of sexist comments from technical director Shane Sutton, who has since resigned.

“I think it is quite questionable why Jess is no longer part of the GB cycling team,” said Phillips, 27.

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Sutton resigns amid discrimination row

Australian Sutton, 58, has rejected accusations of using sexist and discriminatory language towards elite cyclists.

Varnish continues to train independently in the hope that Sutton’s departure will earn her a recall to the GB squad in time for Rio.

But Phillips has conceded her chances are slim, adding: “While we are still hopeful, we’re not stupid and we appreciate there is a selection document to follow.

“I’m just hopeful we will get through this investigation and everyone will have their say and things will become clearer post-Rio.”

Phillips, the 2013 BMX world champion, has also spoken of his frustration at what he sees has been a lack of respect shown to him by senior management at British Cycling.

He became the first rider to win back-to-back BMX World Cup titles when he took a second series win in 2015.

“I feel my performance levels over the past few years prove I am a strong medal prospect for Rio, and that I deserve to have had perhaps more support and a little bit more respect from senior management,” he said.

“When I won my fourth World Cup on the bounce, they [Sutton and fellow coach Iain Dyer] couldn’t even applaud me off.

“If we all want to be successful, and if we are all working towards being the best cycling nation in the world, what is there not to cheer about?”

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