The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has included cycling in its recommended list of 25 "core sports" for the 2020 Olympic Games. Earlier reports the Lance Armstrong case and subsequent aftershock may see cycling removed from the Games appears to have been refuted by the IOC Executive Board’s decision to include cycling - ahead of the upcoming review session in early September this year.
The decision by the IOC Board strengthens earlier comments made by UCI president Pat McQuaid that "exclusion from the Olympic Programme is highly unlikely".
The 25 sports included in the recommendation are: athletics, rowing, badminton, basketball, boxing, canoeing, cycling, equestrian, fencing, football, gymnastics, weightlifting, handball, hockey, judo, swimming, modern pentathlon, taekwondo, tennis, table tennis, shooting, archery, triathlon, sailing and volleyball.
The sport of cycling has been a feature of the Summer Games since its introduction in 1896 and has continued to develop over the years with BMX being added most recently to the 2008 Beijing Games. There had been suggestions, notably by former WADA president Richard 'Dick' Pound that cycling needed to be taken out of the Games in order for it to 'clean up'. Pound's comments came in the wake of USADA's damning findings against Armstrong and his former US Postal team during the the Texan's Tour de France winning streak from 1999 through to 2005.
UCI president McQuaid has been heavily criticised in the months following the release of USADA's findings on Armstrong and his US Postal teammates for not doing enough in the anti-doping fight and yet stated "cycling has moved with the times" with the news cycling had been included in the core sports list.
McQuaid was elected to the 10-member IOC panel to evaluate 2020 Games bids in September 2012 but steeped down in late January this year citing time restraints. He remains an IOC representative for Ireland.
"The fact that the IOC Executive Board once again recommends the inclusion of cycling speaks volumes," said McQuaid in a UCI statement. "From the traditional disciplines of road and track, to the off-road spectacle of mountain bike and on to our youngest discipline BMX, cycling has the ability to capture the imaginations of an enormous cross-section of the population and draw them into the Olympic movement. The success of all cycling's disciplines at London 2012 was proof of our sport’s popularity.
"Over the years, cycling has moved with the times while never losing sight of its traditions," added McQuaid. "With its easy accessibility and widespread popularity, it upholds the fundamental principles of Olympism which state that the practice of sport is a human right."
The final decision will be made at the 125th IOC Session in Buenos Aires, Argentina from 7-10 September this year.