Former British cyclist Jess Varnish has appealed against a ruling that saw her lose an employment tribunal in January ©Getty Images

Former British cyclist Jess Varnish has appealed against a ruling that saw her lose an employment tribunal in January.

The 28-year-old was unsuccessful in her effort to prove that she was an employee of British Cycling and UK Sport.

The decision meant she was unable to sue both bodies for wrongful dismissal and sexual discrimination.

Varnish, winner of a gold medal in the team sprint at the 2011 European Championships, is challenging the ruling relating to British Cycling with a judge now set to decide whether her appeal can proceed.

"Jess Varnish has appealed against the decision of the Manchester Employment Tribunal that she was self-employed," Varnish’s lawyer Simon Fenton of Constantine Law said in a statement.

"The original claim was against British Cycling and UK Sport.

"On behalf of Ms Varnish, we have filed an appeal at the Employment Appeal Tribunal against British Cycling alone.

"No appeal has been lodged against UK Sport.

"The Appeal Tribunal has been asked to overturn the original judgment and to decide that Ms Varnish was an employee."

Fenton argued the grounds for the appeal include, but are not limited to, that the tribunal erred in law in finding that there was no "mutuality of obligation" between Varnish and British Cycling.

Among the other grounds he referred to was that the tribunal failed to explain how the work performed by a professional football player, such as training and competition, is different from the work performed by Varnish for British Cycling.

He also claimed the tribunal erred in law in finding that the services and  benefits received by Varnish from British Cycling were not remuneration.

Jess Varnish is a former European team sprint champion ©Getty Images
Jess Varnish is a former European team sprint champion ©Getty Images

Varnish began legal proceedings after she was dropped from the Olympic programme in 2016, with her claiming it was due to her criticism of coaches after she failed to qualify for Rio 2016.

She also claimed that British Cycling's technical director at the time, Shane Sutton, told her to "go and have a baby".

An internal investigation found that Sutton, who had resigned shortly after the incident, had used sexist language, but was not guilty of bullying.

The organisation also argued that Varnish had been dropped purely due to her recent performance.

In December, Varnish was cross-examined over her written witness statement and oral evidence by British Cycling's barrister Thomas Linden.

She gave examples of the organisation's "extreme control" over her, including coaches listening through her hotel door to check if she was asleep when she went on training camps as a youth and having to provide monthly blood samples which the body then owned.

The cyclist argued that this level of control was similar to that of an employer, with her ability to make money as a "freelancer" curbed by her contracts with British Cycling and UK Sport.

Her claims were backed by her partner and former British BMX star Liam Phillips and her agent James Harper.

Varnish, a former European team sprint champion and world silver medallist, released a statement on the back of the employment tribunal saying she was "disappointed at the judgement" but had "no regrets" in going through the process. 

The landmark ruling was seen as a blow to any other Olympic athletes who had considered the possibility of suing UK Sport and/or their respective governing bodies.

UK Sport said the verdict provided reassurance that the relationship between itself, national governing bodies and athletes is "as it has always intended to be", adding that it should "provide the means and support for talented athletes to achieve their dreams of realising success at the Olympic and Paralympic Games".

British Cycling claimed in a statement that the decision to contest the case was founded on what it believes to be "the best interests of riders who represent Great Britain" and its conviction that its "relationship with them is not one of employer-employee but that of a service provider supporting talented and dedicated athletes to achieve their best".