Skip to main content

Team GB's Stephen Park wants Denmark disqualified for 'shin tape' use

Team Denmark using kinesiology tape on shins
(Image credit: Getty Images)

British Cycling's performance director, Stephen Park, has called for Denmark to be disqualified after the team used kinesiology tape for an aerodynamic marginal gain in the opening round of the men's Team Pursuit at the Tokyo Olympics

The tape, used primarily as a support for injury or muscular imbalance, was found on the front of both shins of all four Danish riders in the opening round of the Team Pursuit on Monday. 

Chris Boardman was among the high profile public critics of the tape, while British Cycling's performance director, Stephen Park, was involved in a more formal complaint process with the UCI and the race's commissaires surrounding the tape's use. 

"Overnight there were a number of teams who submitted a complaint including ourselves because we believe there was a clear breach of the regulation," Park explained, before claiming that the UCI had reached the same conclusion. 

"They started the meeting by saying they had found that the Danes were in breach of the regulation."

However, much to Park's disappointment, the UCI only issued the Danish squad with a warning, rather than a disqualification. 

"Do I think they should be disqualified? I don’t think there is any alternative," Park continued. 

"The rules are clear. It says you cannot apply something to the skin. They have applied something to the skin. It says in the specific rule that if you break that rule, your option is for being eliminated or disqualified, so they have no option. There is no doubt in anyone else’s mind that it is deliberate."

When the Danes lined up against Great Britain in the second round, the squad's kinesiology tape was nowhere to be seen, further compounding the theory that the tape's use was tactical for aerodynamic gain, rather than for the purpose of supporting injuries. 

The focus wasn't entirely on the kinesiology tape, though. Denmark's base layers were also an area of debate, even before the late crash that eventually saw Denmark qualify for the final against Italy.  

"There was some debate over whether or not they did or didn’t need to be registered but the relevance of that was whether it was for aerodynamic gain or not and whether it was available for sale. Unfortunately to the first point, the item in question, which is a Huub garment, is actually advertised as an aerodynamic undervest, so there can be little doubt as to whether or not it is there for aerodynamic purposes or not. 

"There is also a question because none of the teams believe it was for sale on January 1, particularly as a number of teams have researched into the source code of the website and found that it was actually published in May and the information relating to the kit being available on January 1 was only added in the last 24 hours."

The UCI rules state that all equipment used must be available publicly as of January 1, 2021, and used in competition prior to the Olympics. 

"The undergarments, in terms of drag, it could be up to three per cent, so pretty significant," Park concluded.

Despite the complaints, the UCI has so far remained steadfast, only giving the Danes a warning and banning the use of the tape and base layers in question. 

Despite the equipment change and the crash, the Danish squad beat Great Britain comfortably in their ride-off for the final. 

However Park hasn't ruled out taking further action on the Danes' choice of equipment.

"We will have to consider whether there is any further action that we need to take, if we believe, when our legal advisers have looked at the documents, whether they really believe that the UCI just haven’t followed their own rules or not."

Josh has been with us as Senior Tech Writer since the summer of 2019 and throughout that time he's covered everything from buyer's guides and deals to the latest tech news and reviews. On the bike, Josh has been riding and racing for over 15 years. He started out racing cross country in his teens back when 26-inch wheels and triple chainsets were still mainstream, but he found favour in road racing in his early 20s, racing at a local and national level for Team Tor 2000. He's always keen to get his hands on the newest tech, and while he enjoys a good long road race, he's much more at home in a local criterium.