Track cyclist Jess Varnish has alleged she was told to 'go and have a baby' by British Cycling technical director Shane Sutton when she was dropped from the Olympic programme.
Varnish was told last month that her contract on the Olympic podium programme would not be renewed following her failure, along with teammate Katy Marchant, to qualify for the Rio Games in the women's team sprint.
Varnish had publicly criticised Sutton and British Cycling head coach Iain Dyer in the wake of that failure. British Cycling has insisted the decision to drop Varnish was made on performance grounds, but the 25-year-old has claimed in the Daily Mail that Sutton told her she was "too old".
Sutton has denied making the comments.
According to Varnish, she went to British Cycling's base at the Manchester Velodrome to collect her belongings after her contract was not renewed, and asked to see the performance data which had led to her being dropped.
"I saw Shane and Iain and asked if I could have some of the [performance] information," she said. "They couldn't give it to me and said I'd been on the programme too long, that I was too old at the age of 25. Shane said that I should just move on and go and have a baby."
Varnish, whose boyfriend Liam Phillips is due to compete for Sutton in BMX in Rio, claimed there was a macho culture within British Cycling.
She said: "After 2012 I was told that with an ass like mine I couldn't change position within the team sprint. It basically implies the stronger woman has to go in 'man one' position because I'm quite glute dominant, shall we say."
At the London Olympics, Varnish competed with Victoria Pendleton in the team sprint but the pair were disqualified. Last month, her Rio dreams were ended when she and Marchant finished fifth at the World Championships in London, missing out on qualification.
In an outspoken interview at the event, Varnish suggested selection decisions by the coaches were partly responsible for the failure.
"After 2012 I was told that with an ass like mine I couldn't change position within the team sprint." Jess Varnish
In statements released to Press Association Sport, British Cycling said Varnish was dropped on performance grounds alone.
"Following a post-world championships review of every rider on the track programme, the decision was made not to renew Jess's place based on performances in training and competition, and on a projection of capability for a medal in Tokyo. The decision was upheld by an evaluation committee following an appeal by Jess.
"At no point in the performance review, the appeal process or in subsequent correspondence did Jess raise concerns about sexism, or any other form of discriminatory behaviour, in the Great Britain Cycling Team.
"However, we are fully committed to the principles and active promotion of equality of opportunity. As such, we treat any such allegations with the utmost seriousness and we will be contacting Jess to offer to discuss her concerns in full."
In his own statement, Sutton said: "I wholeheartedly deny that I said or did anything other than act with complete professionalism in my dealings with Jess.
"As with all other riders on the track programme, she was subject to a performance review following the worlds and the data did not justify Jess retaining a lottery-funded place on the podium programme as an athlete with medal potential in this Olympic cycle or the next.
"Jess has been a great athlete to work with and it's important to me that the valuable contribution she made to British Cycling and women's cycling during her time on the Great Britain Cycling Team is not forgotten."