UCI condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine
March 17, 2022
Tadej Pogacar wins the Strade Bianche with #NOWAR on the finish arc. Photo by Fabio FerrariLaPresse via AP
There is a good chance you heard that on 24th of February 2022 Russia invaded Ukraine. Completely unprovoked Kremlin decided to send its troops and heavy artillery to a neighboring country and spread terror. As a bigger portion of the world condemned this Putin’s invasion and imposed heavy sanctions, UCI decided to do its part and react accordingly as well. In this article we will go through the official statement issued by UCI and see what has changed in the cycling world nearly a month into this Russian war.
Breakdown of an official UCI statement
On 1st of March, Union Cycliste Internationale, published an official article condemning Putin’s aggression and taking strong measures in the face of the situation in Ukraine. Although the UCI states that it remains a politically neutral organization, they believe that it is necessary to be firm in the defense of the Olympic values. The outcome is as follows:
- Russian and Belarusian national teams and / or national selections are not authorized to take part in any events on the UCI International Calendar, with immediate effect.
Looking from the road cycling discipline’s perspective, this means that both Russians and Belarusians will not be allowed to compete in World Championships. But how well do these two nations do in such events? In the 2021 World Championship held in Belgium, Russia sent a national team consisting of 6 athletes, while there was only a single Belerusian competing. The best result that Russians managed to scramble was 40th for Artem Nych, while 5 of his comrades DNF’ed, A Belarusian athlete joined the broom wagon as well. This is not unique by any means, in 2020 3 out of 6 riders DNF’ed and in 2019 all 6 didn’t manage to finish a race. It is pretty clear that neither Russians, nor Belarusians are in any place to compete, let alone achieve any kind of result.
- UCI Team status is withdrawn from all teams under Russian or Belarusian nationality and the UCI shall not consider any further applications for UCI status from teams from these two countries.
This is more important than attending world championships, where you cannot compete on any serious level. While there were some heated discussions why Russians are allowed to compete in races if they ride for German or British teams, in my opinion, it is pretty clear. It is not a secret that all of the cycling teams heavily rely on sponsorship, meaning that sponsors profit from advertisements that riders usually sport on their kit. Sending a Gazprom-RusVelo athlete into a breakaway for a whole day, provides Gazprom, which is a part of Kremlin’s propaganda machine , a lot of TV time and promotion. Companies, such as Gazprom, fund Russia, which in turn is able to continue its invasion in Ukraine.
- The UCI withdraws all Russian and Belarusian events from the 2022 UCI International Calendar and shall not consider any further registration requests.
This is pretty self explanatory, no more events that bring traction and income for aggressors. By allowing such events, UCI would once bring money for a war machine that kills innocent people in Ukraine.
- The Russian and Belarusian National Championships are also withdrawn from the UCI International Calendar
No more national champions jerseys for Russians and Belarussians. Although this might seem minor for an outsider, every diehard fan of cycling knows that such a jersey is a life achievement. In some countries, such as France or Belgium it means more, than in let’s say, Lithuania, but nonetheless, sporting such an artifact for a whole year on your back in the biggest races on the calendar is something that every athlete dreams of.
The following sanctions could be placed together as they are less unique to cycling and are unanimous among a lot of sports:
- The appearance of all emblems, names, acronyms, flags and anthems linked to Russia and Belarus are prohibited at all events on the UCI International Calendar. The Russian and Belarusian National Champions’ jerseys are therefore banned.
- Any bids from Russian and Belarusian candidates for the organization of UCI events shall not be considered.
- The UCI forbids organizers of events on the UCI International Calendar from inviting Russian and Belarusian club, regional or mixed teams.
- The UCI will not appoint Russian or Belarusian International Commissaires to UCI International Calendar events until further notice.
Such sanctions are probably consistent among all sports and sends a clear message to Russians and Belarussians.
Changing sporting nationality
While Russians and Belarusians that are a part of corresponding nationality teams are banned, athletes that have multiple nationalities are able to request a change to their sporting nationality without any restriction. Pavel Sivakov of Ineos Grenadiers has already changed his nationality to French. He will be able to compete in Paris at the 2024 Olympics for France, if he makes a national team. At this point in time, this is a single case of a Russian cyclist changing his sporting nationality.
Should sports be mixed with politics?
In this case, absolutely yes. For too long Putin, a war criminal, and his goonies, have been allowed to run rampant and cause terror all around the world. While their previous crimes and shenanigans were quietly swept under a rug by westerners, this time has to be different. This time every single citizen will be affected and hopefully will see Putin for who he is- a dictator and criminal, who attacked innocent people at their home. I am 100% percent behind every sanction that was imposed by UCI and hope that soon Ukrainians will not have to hide under the ground in their own country. Slava Ukraini!
BigBonkTour’s support for Ukraine
As a Lithuanian, who has been well aware of Russia and Kremlin his whole life, I cannot stay put and see how innocent lifes are being lost in this inhumane act of terror. Moreover, a collapse of this neighboring facist country would be a dream come true for any European. Therefore all the monetary support I receive from my readers will go straight to organizations helping those who fight this tyrant.
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