Cycling is a universal activity and we must continue our commitment to ensuring that it is similarly accessible at all levels and in all its forms across the globe. While the death of George Floyd has resulted in a wave of indignation worldwide, riders’ testimonies explaining they have been subject to racism because they have black skin sends us a message concerning our responsibilities. As an International Federation, what does the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) do to ensure diversity in cycling, an Olympic and Paralympic sport, but one which remains strongly tied to the West and is still predominantly practised in countries and by populations that are relatively economically privileged?
The respect of diversity is recorded in our fundamental documents. Our Constitution is unequivocal when it comes to our duty to ensure “equality between all the members and all the athletes, licence-holders and officials, without racial, political, religious, gender-related or other discrimination.” Our Code of Ethics, updated in recent years, declares: “The persons bound by the Code shall not undertake any action, use any denigrating words, or any other means, that offend the human dignity of a person or group of persons, on any grounds including but not limited to skin colour, race, religion, ethnic or social origin, political opinion, sexual orientation, disability or any other reason contrary to human dignity.”
Our Federation is closely associated with the symbol of the rainbow – representing the five continents – that appears on the legendary UCI World Champion’s jersey. Every year, we organise UCI World Championships for each of our eight disciplines, open to national teams of our 196 National Federations. Diversity is a reality. In 2019, our UCI World Championships visited three continents (North America, Asia and Europe). Yorkshire, in Great Britain, welcomed 1072 riders from 67 nations for the UCI Road World Championships. In 2025, as a new major step forward, these same UCI World Championships will be held in Africa for the first time in the 120-year history of our Federation. Nevertheless, despite these figures, we know that not all nations are equally equipped to accompany riders to the highest level and enable them to reach a professional level in cycling. That is why the UCI steps in at the foundations, with young riders and people working in the sport.
From 2002 to 2018, our training centre, the UCI World Cycling Centre (WCC), at our headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, has welcomed more than 2200 athletes, but also coaches and people practising other cycling professions, from five continents. This support often serves as a launching pad: in 2020 the Trinidadian Teniel Campbell joined the ranks of the Italian UCI Women’s Continental Team (2nd division) Valcar-Travel & Service. In 2015, Eritrean Daniel Teklehaimanot became the first sub-Saharan African athlete to wear the polka dot Best Climber’s jersey at the Tour de France. The same year, Venezuelan Stefany Hernandez became UCI BMX World Champion before claiming the bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Before her, the Chinese track cycling specialist Guo Shuang won multiple medals at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games. In total, 22 Olympic medals and 78 UCI World Champions can be attributed to the work of the UCI WCC and its five satellite centres throughout the world, such as that in Paarl, South Africa.
In line with our Federation’s roadmap, the Agenda 2022, in 2019 we supported more than 120 projects implemented by National Federations and Continental Confederations as part of the UCI Solidarity programme, for a total amount of 2 million Swiss francs. Last year, the UCI allocated a global amount of 5 million Swiss francs for actions in favour of training and the development of cycling in the world. This budget is financed by the Olympic contribution received by the UCI – cycling is the third sport at the OG in terms of medal numbers – after each edition of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. This income enables the UCI to contribute to the diversity in our sport. So that cycling is open to everyone, regardless of their origins. Because the rainbow needs all its colours.