The recent push to remove podium hostesses from post-race ceremonies will not be enforced by the UCI. President David Lappartient is aware of the gender biases that go along with the traditional role but says that compromises can be made to have a more respectful protocol while retaining cycling's podium customs.
In an interview with The Telegraph, Lappartient said that the UCI will introduce new guidelines for podium procedures which will keep podium hostesses but may also, instead, feature local women and men in traditional costume.
At the recent UCI Track World Championships in Apeldoorn, podium awards were handed out by hostesses wearing official UCI uniforms. Any new guidelines will be implemented gradually across UCI-registered races.
The pressure is on for event promoters to do away with the dated tradition completely, particularly after the Professional Darts Corporation (PDC) removed 'walk-on women' and Formula 1 announced that it would replace 'grid girls' with 'grid kids' this season. Tour de France organisers, ASO, have said they would consider ending the use of 'podium girls'.
The UCI President said that there have been discussions in Aigle about the various issues surrounding cycling's traditional roles of 'podium girls' such as models being hired to wear revealing clothing and lead the podium process of handing out awards and kissing the athletes' cheeks for photographers and fans.
Lappartient has no intention of following the PDC or Formula 1 by completely removing podium hostesses, but he would rather see them treated more respectfully.
"The important thing is that it is respectful," Lappartient said. "I think we can have a mix. Sometimes I think it's nice to have local women or men hand out the jerseys and the flowers in traditional costume from that area. Sometimes children maybe.
"What is important, I think, is that the costumes are not degrading in any way, and no one is being exploited."
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