Development of women's cycling and gender parity
We must place particular focus on the place of women in cycling, whether it be at a sporting or governance level. To this end, various measures have been taken since I was chosen to lead the UCI.
On a sporting level, the track cycling programme is now almost identical for men and women; it will be entirely identical once the women's sprint teams move from two to three riders. This move should come into effect from the beginning of the 2020-2021 UCI World Cup.
In para-cycling, we have broken new ground by holding a team sprint test event during the 2019 UCI World Championships, in which mixed tandems took part.
Cyclo-cross has seen a whole raft of measures aimed at developing women's cycling. Among those I consider to be the most important are:
- at the next UCI World Championships (2020), for the first time we will be adding a Women Junior category;
- the quotas will be identical for men and women from those Championships onwards;
- a dedicated Women Junior race will be introduced to the UCI World Cup at the beginning of the 2020-2021 season; this will therefore enable National Federations to enter an increased number of Junior Women;
- prize money distributed by the UCI for World Cup overall ranking places will be identical for men and women from the 2019-2020 season onwards;
- prize money distributed by organisers at each round will gradually progress over three seasons, beginning in 2019-2020, to achieve parity in 2022;
Both men and women take part in all of our disciplines and specialities except one: cycle-ball. To remedy this anomaly, we are looking at the possibility of integrating women's cycle-ball into the UCI International Indoor Cycling Calendar.
Globally, the aim of complete parity at the Paris 2024 Olympics has been shared and approved in principle by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
In addition to the reform of female professional road cycling mentioned above, the discipline has also seen significant progress in terms of promoting gender equality:
- we created a Technical Delegate position for the UCI Women's WorldTour; previously this post has only existed for the UCI (Men's) WorldTour;
- managers and partners of women's teams are, as of 2019, required to sign either a 'Team Leader Declaration' or 'Declaration of agreement with ethical principles' document; these texts aim to raise awareness among teams and take responsibility for the harassment that some female riders may suffer, including within their own team; this good practice will be extended to all the road teams in 2020 and to all UCI teams by 2022;
- the team time trial at the UCI World Championships will see national teams compete in a mixed relay, starting at the UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire, to be held in September 2019.
With regard to governance, I am delighted that the Management Committee appointed Mrs Amina Lanaya to the position of UCI Director General.
We have also launched a number of initiatives in this area:
- A 'Charter to promote gender equality in cycling' has been implemented. One of the first measures, currently under development, is to establish a gender equality policy within the UCI itself, which will then become an integral part of staff regulations. The aim of the policy is to guarantee equal, respectful and fair treatment for all, particularly with regards to recruitment, and to ensure that men and women are given the same professional opportunities. The charter also contains the fundamental principles in line with which the UCI wishes to establish equal pay.
- The UCI has taken steps to obtain Economic Dividends for Gender Equality (EDGE) certification, the benchmark accreditation for evaluating companies’ and organisations' commitment to gender equality at work.
- The 'Charter for official ceremonies' is one element of the charter mentioned above. This policy, which came into effect at the 2018 UCI Road World Championships in Innsbruck-Tirol, requires the approval by the UCI of outfits worn by hosts/hostesses and also equal gender representation in these roles. It will now be included in future Organisers' Guides for UCI World Championships.
- A guide to assist National Federations in developing women's cycling is currently being written. It will be presented at the next UCI Road World Championships (Yorkshire).
Finally, the athletes’ place within our governance has been strengthened: from now on, the person elected as President of the Athletes’ Commission automatically becomes a full member of the UCI Management Committee. Katerina Nash, cyclo-cross and mountain bike specialist, currently holds this position.
The role of our partners is crucial: they make a significant contribution to developing and promoting our events (World Cups and World Championships). In addition, the arrival of new sponsors demonstrates their confidence in our sport and our Federation.
Since my election, three major partners have been added to our list of sponsors.
The prestigious German car manufacturer Mercedes-Benz has become an official partner of the UCI for mountain bike. Since the 2018 season, they have presented the UCI Mountain Bike World Championships whilst also being the title sponsor of the discipline's UCI World Cup.
At the end of 2018, two other major players also lent their support to mountain bike: the famous American glasses manufacturer Oakley, and the Czech tyre manufacturer Mitas. Both have become Official Partners of the discipline's World Championships and World Cup.
The UCI now has 194 affiliated National Federations, a record that was reached at the Congress in Innsbruck, Austria, in September 2018. 130 of those Federations took part in the Congress, another record. While some National Federations already have solid infrastructure and financing, others need help in establishing themselves at an international sporting level. I have decided to increase the resources available to them.
As soon I began leading the UCI, I strengthened our International Relations Department by providing it with a greater number of staff. This Department is the main contact for National Federations on a daily basis, and must provide a service that meets their expectations.
At the same time, the Solidarity Fund used to finance programmes that National Federations have submitted to the UCI has been increased: it has gone from just under 1 million Swiss francs when I took charge at the UCI, to almost 2 million for 2019.
When it comes to governance, I have created a Solidarity and Emerging Cycling Countries Commission, whose members are nominated by the Continental Confederations. The main aims of this new Commission are to provide solidarity services to National Federations and Continental Confederations in support of their development projects, to put in place a UCI Emerging Cycling Countries World Championships, and to improve cooperation between member countries. The first-ever UCI Emerging Cycling Countries World Championships should take place in 2022. The event will then be organised every four years, and will bring together our five Olympic disciplines (road, track, mountain bike, BMX Racing and BMX Freestyle).
The UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC), where our Federation’s headquarters are located, is our elite training and coaching centre for all of our Olympic disciplines (road, track, mountain bike, BMX Racing and BMX Freestyle). Each year it welcomes some 300 young athletes and professionals with different roles within cycling (e.g. mechanics), the vast majority of whom have benefited from a scholarship. I wanted the resources allocated to the WCC – which I believe to be central to the UCI’s solidarity policy – to be increased. Our investment in the WCC and in development projects via our solidarity programme has gone from 4.3 million Swiss francs in 2017, to 5.9 million Swiss francs in 2019. That represents a 37% increase.
In order to better achieve its objectives, the UCI WCC must offer National Federations the best possible infrastructure and programmes. In this regard, a dedicated BMX Freestyle park and trials track are soon to be unveiled, the current pump track will be replaced to conform to the most recent standards, and a UCI Women's Team from the UCI WCC has been created. It is also with this in mind that the decision was taken to create a University for Cycling Professionals (UCP) at the UCI WCC, and the network of satellite centres across the world is expanding.
Evolving the disciplines of cycling
As I have said previously, cycling is a sport that is constantly evolving. Technological innovation should be integrated when useful, but we must remain vigilant: novelty must never damage equality between participants, nor the safety of competition. We must offer attractive new competition formats, which reflect the modernity of our sport without betraying its heritage.
These past 18 months have seen several innovations.
We have just created an Event Appeal Working Group, to consider ways to increase the appeal of road cycling. Their work will run from January to September 2019. Consisting of representatives from the different cycling families (including media and fans), this working group will carry out a broad consultation which will lead to tests at targeted events, and proposals will then be submitted to the Management Committee for their approval in September. The changes will be introduced in January 2020.
We have banned the use of earpieces at UCI Road World Championship events. This encourages more exciting racing and puts greater emphasis on the riders’ tactical abilities.
Following a test phase which allowed us – as well as riders and teams and in collaboration with manufacturers – to calmly assess the implications of the use of disc brakes, and to contribute to their development, we have decided to permit them in road cycling and BMX Racing. We believe this to be a positive technological innovation.
We have clarified the regulations relating to the technical properties of riders' clothing, in order to allow for innovation in their development (particularly with respect to the aerodynamic advantages they bring), whilst still maintaining fair competition between riders. We have also clarified the regulations that ensure fairness between athletes with regards to equipment. The use of prototypes remains permitted, as long as they have been approved in advance by the UCI and are made available for public sale within a reasonable – and clearly defined – timescale and at a comparable price to other similar products.
With regards to ethics, we have modified the UCI Constitution to strengthen our financial transparency and establish obligations pertaining to independent monitoring during the Continental Confederation election process.
Modifications have also been made to the Ethics Code in order to integrate the IOC Code on the Prevention of the Manipulation of Competitions as well as the IOC Consensus Statement on sexual harassment and abuse. The Ethics Commission therefore has at its disposal regulations that meet the highest standards. The next steps to be taken will comprise the elaboration of education campaigns and the conclusion of agreements relating to the monitoring of betting activities.
The activities of the Ethics Commission have been varied, covering the monitoring of the UCI elections to the administration of various cases linked to harassment, contractual relationships, conflicts of interest or even National Federations behaviour.
The Ethics Commission underwent a reform in 2015 and will be reinforced this year with a public call for candidatures ensuring a composition exclusively independent from cycling.
The UCI is one of the leading International Federations in the field of anti-doping. My appointment to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)'s Foundation Board, the supreme decision-making body within the institution which is comprised of representatives from the Olympic movement and governing bodies. In this respect, this appointment shows great recognition of our eminent anti-doping work and credibility. We must continue our efforts, because anything that affects one of our members affects us all.
In 2018 alone, the Cycling Anti-doping Foundation (CADF), the independent body in charge of the planning and implementation of controls within our sport, collected 15,281 sample on behalf of the UCI (7,335 in competition and 7,946 out of competition). Amongst these samples, 5,589 were taken within the framework of the Athlete Biological Passport.
I would like to warmly thank every member of the UCI Management Committee, in particular my Vice-Presidents, Dr Mohamed Wagih Azzam, Mr Renato Di Rocco and Mr José Manuel Pelaez, for their invaluable help with these changes, and I acknowledge the new-found unity within our executive entity. I would also like to wholeheartedly thank all our Continental Confederations and National Federations for their investment in the development of cycling right across the world and their support for the policies led by the UCI. You can count on my determination and energy in implementing Agenda 2022 for your benefit. I very much look forward to continuing this mission with you.