Russian invasion of Ukraine earns condemnation from UCI

LEUVEN BELGIUM SEPTEMBER 24 Maksym Bilyi of Ukraine Denys Khotulov of Ukraine Daniil Nikulin of Ukraine and Yaroslav Parashchak of Ukraine during the team presentation prior to 94th UCI Road World Championships 2021 Men U23 Road Race a 1609km race from Antwerp to Leuven flanders2021 on September 24 2021 in Leuven Belgium Photo by Alex Broadway PoolGetty Images
The Ukraine team for the U23 men's race at Worlds in Flanders (Image credit: Getty Images Sport)

The UCI joined the IOC and other sports federations in condemning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, issuing a press release on Friday that called for a diplomatic solution to the crisis. They did not take any other definitive action, incorrectly stating* that there are no UCI-sanctioned events scheduled in Russia in 2022.

The UCI said the Russian invasion is a violation of the Olympic Truce, which is intended to promote peace and understanding through sport. The United Nations' member countries - including Russia - on December 2, 2021.

The truce calls for the

cessation of any hostilities between countries from February 4 through March 20, seven days after the Paralympics ends, to ensure athletes' can safely travel to and from the Games taking place in Beijing.

"The sport and cycling have often been able to lead the way to peace and dialogue," the UCI press release stated.

"These values must inspire the Russian government so that it can cease hostilities and resume dialogue to give a chance for a peaceful resolution of this military action."

The move follows the UEFA announcement that the Champions League Finals would be moved out of Russia, taking place in Saint-Denis, France rather than Saint Petersburg as previously planned. After Sebastian Vettel stated he would not compete in the Sochi Formula 1 round in September, F1 cancelled the Russian round altogether.

At the UAE Tour, the role of sport in the conflict was highlighted when Mathias Vacek, racing in the colours of Gazprom-RusVelo, won the stage. The team's sponsor is state owned by Russia and is a major supporter of international sport. The FC Schalke 04 football team announced it would remove Gazprom from their jerseys after the invasion and one of the Gazprom executives who was on the team's board of directors stepped down. The Haas Formula 1 team said it will remove branding of title sponsor Uralkali, a Russian fertilizer exporter, from its cars this weekend.

The UCI stated it "is following the development of the situation in Ukraine with concern and firmly condemns the violation of international law and of Ukraine’s territorial integrity," and called for "an immediate halt to hostilities and considers that the only way forward is through diplomatic channels".

There is no indication that the UCI is considering excluding Gazprom-RusVelo from the final UAE Tour stage or any races. The team itself has made no statement about the invasion or even a mention of it on its official channels.

The UCI did, however, say it has raised the Ukrainian flag in front of its Aigle headquarters in solidarity with "the innocent civilians faced with this terrible conflict" and said their "thoughts are with the Ukrainian people as well as Ukraine’s cycling community, which it assures has its full support and affection."

*Two track events, the Grand Prix Moscow and Grand Prix of Saint Petersburg are scheduled to take place in May, both are currently listed on the UCI's web site as sanctioned Class 2 events, as is the Five Rings of Moscow, set for June, is a 2.2-ranked road stage race.

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Laura Weislo
Managing Editor

Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Managing Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks. Laura's specialises in covering doping, anti-doping, UCI governance and performing data analysis.