Cycling-British Cycling announces review, suspends technical director

(Adds new statement from British Cycling)

LONDON, April 26 (Reuters) - British Cycling have suspended technical director Shane Sutton and will form an independent review of its performance programmes following allegations of discrimination by rider Jess Varnish, the governing body said on Tuesday.

Varnish, a former European champion in the team sprint, was dropped from the British Cycling performance squad after she failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics at this year's world championships in London.

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The 25-year-old and Katy Marchant had needed to better France by three places at the worlds to make Rio, which they failed to do, prompting Varnish to blame mistakes by British Cycling's coaches.

She has since hit out at British Cycling's technical director Sutton and accused him of making sexist remarks, which the Australian denies.

In a statement on Tuesday, Varnish claimed other people had experienced similar behaviour and said "a culture of fear" existed at British Cycling.

The governing body said it would set up an independent review and that it was "fully committed to the principles and active promotion of equality of opportunity and we must take any such allegations seriously".

In a later statement, it added: "Following the announcement of an independent review into British Cycling's performance programmes, we are also announcing technical director Shane Sutton has been suspended pending an internal investigation into the allegations of discrimination that have been reported in the press."

The terms of the review, conducted in conjunction with UK Sport, are yet to be announced. (Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Toby Davis/Peter Rutherford)

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