Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Road

UCI defends its position in Gazprom-RusVelo ban

Tensions rise in wake of racing ban between cycling's governing body and the former Russian-backed team.

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

The UCI stands by its decision to ban the Gazprom-RusVelo sponsors, and countered that it’s taken several steps to try to help the team stay afloat.

Cycling’s governing body banned all teams and sponsors associated with Russia and Belorussia on March 1 in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

That decision eventually resulted in the ProTeam-level squad Gazprom-RusVelo to shutter despite trying to distance itself from its controversial title sponsor that has close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin.

On Monday’s rest day, officials from the CPA, the Italian riders association and two racers on the now-shuttered team criticized the UCI for being inflexible and not allowing the team to race with neutral colors while it tried to work out its finances to stay afloat in light of the unprecedented events.

Also read:

The UCI shot back overnight with a press note, insisting that it’s worked closely with team management to try to find solutions.

“Faced with this difficult situation for the athletes, the UCI immediately informed the paying agent of the possible solutions and conditions for a return to competition,” the UCI said. “These mainly concern the nationality of the team, which may be modified given the paying agent’s domiciliation in Switzerland, and the financial capacity of the team.

“These conditions still apply and will be considered in determining any request from the paying agent.”

The UCI also said that team management has not yet tried to tap into its cash reserve, which includes three months of wages, to hand out to riders and staff.

The governing body also said it’s cleared the way for the team’s riders to sign with any team that’s interested in them.

Team officials countered Wednesday, saying the UCI’s decision resulted in 52 staffers and riders losing their jobs.

Officials from the team asked 12 rhetorical questions to the UCI, including the following:

“Why today do the athletes of Gazprom-RusVelo team still have to struggle to find a solution to the injustice they have suffered (certainly not from their team) that the majority of their cycling mates from other teams understand, whereas UCI did not present any transparent and comprehensible solution to help the athletes?”

It appears a Cold War of press releases is heating up between the governing body and the former team.

Here is the full statement from the UCI:

As soon as Russia invaded Ukrainian territory, in violation of the Olympic Truce, the UCI took strong measures, following those taken by the IOC a few days earlier, aiming to ensure the integrity and safety of sporting competitions and the respect of the Olympic values.

In particular, on 1st March, the UCI withdrew UCI team status from all Russian and Belarusian teams. One of these teams was the UCI ProTeam (2nd division) Gazprom – RusVelo.

Moreover, the UCI took a second measure directly affecting the team, that of declaring any sponsorship by Russian and Belarusian companies or brands as harmful to the image of cycling. Under article 1.1.089 of the UCI Regulations, any display of the sponsor Gazprom, as well as the name RusVelo, is therefore prohibited from all events on the UCI International Calendar until further notice.

The UCI understands that as a result of this latest measure in particular, the main sponsor has terminated its contract with the team, leaving the paying agent unable to ensure the team’s funding for the 2022 season.

Faced with this difficult situation for the athletes, the UCI immediately informed the paying agent of the possible solutions and conditions for a return to competition. These mainly concern the nationality of the team, which may be modified given the paying agent’s domiciliation in Switzerland, and the financial capacity of the team.

These conditions still apply and will be considered in determining any request from the paying agent.

Besides the information provided to the team concerning a possible return to competition, the UCI has also replied to all communications and requests from riders. The requests made to the UCI – whether from the team or the riders – could unfortunately not be considered as they required the UCI to bear the costs of the team.

Regarding the protection for riders, the UCI reminded them and the Cyclistes Professionnels Associés (CPA) of the existence of a bank guarantee imposed by the UCI Regulations that enables three months’ salary to be covered for all riders and staff in the event of default of payment.

Despite several reminders of this possibility to the riders and the CPA, the UCI has not, to date, received any request in this regard and is not informed of the payment status of salaries.

Furthermore, following the decision of the UCI Management Committee on 1st March, a derogation to the rules governing transfers was granted to the riders concerned in order to allow them to change teams at any time during the season and thus facilitate the pursuit of their careers in another team.

Some of the team’s riders have taken advantage of this provision to join other UCI Teams.

Since 1st March, the UCI has never ceased to communicate regularly with the teams concerned and to respond to all their requests and those of their riders. The UCI remains at the disposal of the team management and the riders to work with them towards the best possible solution.