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USA Cycling pulls marathon nationals from initial host state

Citing anti-transgender legislation, cycling's national governing body seeks new venue in another state.

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Because of anti-transgender legislation, USA Cycling has announced that it will not hold marathon mountain bike nationals in October in the unspecified state originally slated to host it, and is instead seeking another venue.

USA Cycling said in a release that it initially learned of the legislation during preparations to announce the date and location. USA Cycling representatives declined to specify to VeloNews which state this was, but said it was not Arkansas.

[An earlier version of this story named Arkansas as the original host state. We apologize for the error.]

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“This legislation would have barred transgender youth from participating in school sports consistent with their gender identity. This legislation has subsequently passed into law,” USA Cycling stated in a release. “As a result, USA Cycling has decided against holding marathon mountain bike nationals in the aforementioned state and is currently vetting new venues.”

Bills that ban transgender girls from competing on girls’ sports teams in public schools exist in Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. South Dakota governor also instituted this as policy in her state on executive order.

Multiple transgender-related bills were created in Arkansas this year, prompting some in the cycling community to propose boycotts of races and other events in the state.

Brook Watts, the former race director for a 2021 cyclocross World Cup and the 2022 cyclocross world championships that were to be held in Arkansas, resigned his position in late April because of the issue.

Arkansas recently held two weekends of U.S. Pro Cup mountain bike racing.

USA Cycling said moving events is not always possible, but that it is listening to “our LGBTQIA+ and allied communities, [and] we will adapt our policies to guide our decisions on where to hold future national championships.”

“It will not always be the case that we can move events in states that have passed similar legislation, either due to previous contractual and legal commitments or the inability to find a suitable replacement venue given the length of time before the event is due to take place,” the governing body said in a statement.

“USA Cycling has modified our national championship plans where contractually possible and will place our future events in locations where legislation does not limit access to sport,” said USA Cycling CEO Rob DeMartini. “For events with existing agreements that occur in locations that have passed restrictive legislation, we will work with the local host community, as well as local advocacy groups to ensure safe and fair events while drawing support for a more inclusive cycling environment.”

USA Cycling did not address the cyclocross World Cup and world championships in Arkansas, but has previously said those fall under the purview of the UCI, not USA Cycling.