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British Cycling calls for UCI to suspend Russian and Belarusian federations, officials

The Russian team trains on the 2021 World Championships course
The Russian team trains on the 2021 World Championships course (Image credit: Getty)

British Cycling has called on the UCI and the European Cycling Union (UEC) to take stronger action against the Russian and Belarusian cycling federations and their officials in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

On Tuesday, the UCI announced that Russian and Belarusian teams are indefinitely suspended from competition, a measure that has sidelined the Gazprom-Rusvelo ProTeam. However, British Cycling has requested that the UCI and UEC suspend the Russian and Belarusian federations and prohibit their officials from holding positions on UCI and UEC management committees and commissions.

"The UCI released a statement which confirmed significant measures in response to the situation in Ukraine, and we welcome those," read the statement from British Cycling chair Frank Slevin.

"However, they have not suspended the Russian and Belarusian federations, and Russian and Belarusian officials will still be permitted to hold positions on the UCI Management Committee and UCI commissions."

The UCI has ignored repeated requests from Cyclingnews to confirm whether the Russian Cycling Federation honorary president Igor Makorov continues to sit on the UCI Management Committee, which met on Tuesday to discuss its response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Natalia Tsylinskaya of Belarus is part of the Management Board of the UEC, and British Cycling has said that it will not send a delegation to this weekend's UEC Congress in protest.

"Our cycling colleagues in Russia and Belarus are not responsible for the further invasion of Ukraine. Indeed, they may be as appalled as we are. However, in our view, it is simply wrong that Russian and Belarusian officials will be permitted places of honour and influence at the highest level of our sport while our colleagues in Ukraine live in fear for their homes and their families," read the British Cycling statement.

"As a consequence, British Cycling will not attend the UEC Congress in Odense this weekend and I have written to the UCI and UEC to repeat our request that the Russian and Belarusian federations are suspended and that Russian and Belarusian officials will not be permitted to hold positions on the UCI or UEC Management Committees, or their commissions."

Tsylinskaya is also head of the women's commission of the UEC, while Pavel Kostyukov of Russia is on the BMX and Olympic disciplines commission and his fellow countrywoman Svetlana Denisenko is part of the commissaires commission.

At the UCI, Makarov sits on the management committee, while Viacheslav Ekimov is a member of the Professional Cycling Council and three Russians sit on UCI commissions. Alexander Gusyatnikov of Russia is part of the Road Commission, Svetlana Denisenko is on the Equipment and New Technologies Commission and Victoria Lesnikova sits on the Solidarity And Emerging Cycling Countries Commission.

British Cycling also stated that it will not "sanction the inclusion of any teams or individuals representing Russia or Belarus in any events organised by British Cycling or coming under the auspices of British Cycling," mirroring the announcement of the Dutch Cycling Federation on Wednesday.

"I am also acutely mindful of the responsibility British Cycling shares with the international cycling community to support our colleagues in Ukraine," Slevin concluded. "With that in mind, I wrote yesterday to the president of the Ukrainian cycling federation, Andriy Grivko, to extend a hand of friendship and to offer help, where we can, to enable his riders and officials to continue to represent their country."

One of Ukraine's leading cycling coaches, Oleksandrw Kulik, was killed in Kyiv on Tuesday during a military operation to help people evacuate from the city. UCI president David Lappartient paid tribute to Kulik in a tweet, though it was striking that he employed a vague euphemism rather than refer directly to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"Oleksandrw Kulik, Honored Coach of Ukraine, has tragically passed away yesterday in the context of the Ukrainian situation," Lappartient wrote.

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Barry Ryan

Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.