Philip Hindes looked like a kid riding his bike without stabilisers for the first time. Wobbling, bike bucking beneath him, he came to an ungainly halt 50 metres from the start. Disaster. Millions watching on TV groaned.

But Team GB’s team sprint effort wasn’t over. Teammates also put their hands up, they were allowed to start their effort and went on to win gold.

What a funny dichotomy. Moments later, a finicky ruling fairly but finely dumped Pendleton and Varnish out of team sprint medal contention, while another flimsy one kept the men’s trio in the race.

That rule in full, section 3.2.154 of the UCI rulebook: “In the event of a mishap, the team must restart at the end of the qualifying rounds.

Any team which may have been hindered by a mishap to its opponents may, by decision of the commissaires’ panel, be granted a restart at the end of the qualifying rounds. In the qualifying rounds a team may only be permitted two starts.”

A strange ruling?
Hindes and Team GB are fortunate. In this particular instance, it appears a strange ruling. In a 4 x 100 metre running race, if an athlete fell over at the start, the whole race wouldn’t be re-run. You get one chance in four years to do it right – that’s how the cookie crumbles.

But had Hindes had a puncture or a faulty chain, a lack of a second chance would have been very harsh. 

Was his action particularly sportsmanly? No. But was it against the rules? Technically, no. A crash counts as a mishap. The team sprinters knew that and were within their rights to restart.

I applaud Hindes’s honesty – or is it naivety? – admitting to it afterwards, though British Cycling have since attempted to backtrack. “We were saying if we have a bad start we need to crash to get a restart. I just crashed, I did it on purpose to get a restart, just to have the fastest ride. I did it. So it was all planned,” he said.

Knowing about the reboot option, what other option did they have? Ride around for a slow time, wrecking four years of hard work? A bizarre sportsmanlike withdrawal from a justified second bite of the cherry?

High-horse hypocrisy

Think about it. What would you have done? I’d have been sprawled ungainly on the deck in a heartbeat, just like Hindes. Some other committees are crying foul, but their riders would have done the same too.

There’s hypocrisy at play from areas of the press though. Had an Australian or German team sprinter done that and gone on to win gold, British journalistswould have seethed and pilloried them.

Some quarters have suggested it is against the spirit of the Olympic Games too. Well, what is the spirit of the modern Games?

It’s been recalibrated, one of ubiquitous sponsorship logos and expensive corporate seats going begging. Alongside this emphasis, a voracious, must-win attitude pervades on the field of play. It doesn’t have to be pretty.

Fastest, if not the fairest
This raw controversy will die down. The inconvertible remaining truth is that Team GB were the fastest.

The fact that Hindes, his heart racing, recovered from that ‘fall’ to clock a 17.2 opening leg in the gold medal leg, and that Great Britain shattered the world record, deserves as much shock and awe too.

Ultimately, track cycling is black and white. You either break the rules or you don’t. Much like Hindes’s aborted start, their actions were morally wobbly but lawful.

London 2012: Live text coverage of cycling events

August 2: Track cycling day one

August 1: Men’s and women’s time trials

July 28: Men’s road race

July 29: Women’s road race

London 2012: Latest news

Pendleton and Varnish out of team sprint

‘Hot pants’ key to Pendleton and Hoy sprint

Britain’s sprinters looking to continue GB medal haul

Wiggins: Tour was perfect Olympic TT preparation

Olympic time trial round-up

Pendleton warms up for London 2012

Cancellara in, Evans out of time trial

CW eyewitness: Remember the name

Cavendish finds solace in commitment of his team mates

London 2012: Team info

Men’s road race start list

Women’s road race start list

Men’s time trial start list

Women’s time trial start list

Team GB rider profiles

Great Britain track team confirmed

Bronzini leads Italian Olympic cycling team

British Olympic men’s road race team announced

Armitstead and Cooke lead GB women’s road cycling team

London 2012: Event guides

Olympic Games men’s time trial: Who will win?

Olympic Games women’s time trial: Who will win?

Olympic time trial routes announced

Olympic Games women’s road race: Who will win?

Olympic Games men’s road race: Who will win?

Download detailed Olympic road race route map

London 2012 cycling schedule

London 2012: Reports

Track cycling day one: Hoy leads team sprinters to gold

Wiggins wins gold in men’s time trial, bronze for Froome

Armstrong defends Olympic title in women’s time trial

Cycling events medal table

Women’s road race: Armitstead wins silver as Vos strikes gold

Men’s road race: Vinokourov wins as Cavendish misses out

London 2012: Photos

Track day one by Phil O’Connor

Track day one by Graham Watson

Men’s time trial by Graham Watson

Women’s time trial by Graham Watson

Pendleton track training

Women’s road race by Andy Jones

Women’s road race by Graham Watson

Men’s road race by Andy Jones

Men’s road race by Phil O’Connor

Men’s road race by Graham Watson

Team GB road race training on Box Hill (July 26)

London 2012: Podcasts

Cycling Weekly podcasts on Soundcloud

London 2012: TV schedule
London 2012 BBC TV cycling coverage schedule
London 2012 Eurosport cycling coverage schedule


  • Alan Henson

    We shouldn’t be at all surprised; Hindes was brought up in Germany; he simply replicated what the German football team do and took a dive! Brilliant!

  • derekbiggerstaff

    Hindes did not understand the expression ‘pulling a fast one’, but before that point he was very clear. Cheats frequently get away with it, but that doesn’t mean they’re not cheats. He’s no different from a footballer diving in the box.

  • Jonathan Turner

    This is a totally unnecessary piece of media. The decision of the Judges is all that counts.

  • Bradders

    I can’t believe anyone would have the presence of mind, knowledge of the rules and be able to accurately second guess the commissaires in that short time. Maybe someone should have asked Philip the question in his first language. When I met him a couple of weeks ago he appeared confused by being spoken to quickly in English.

  • SKi Bunny

    I think this situation is being taken out of context. Did you actually see the interview when Hindes spoke these words? It was a joke not a serious admission. The person interviewing him actually started the joke while laughing and saying ‘did you do it on purpose’…Hindes just continued the joke, also laughing and playfully admitting yes, yes ha ha very funny I did it, fair cop. I think the journalists who are reporting this in the written press are either hopelessly incompetent for not researching the event thoroughly, or guilty of sensationalism at it’s worst. I feel very sorry for Hindes. It’s not even as if english is his first language – did you hear the interviewer say (another joke) ‘you were trying to pull a fast one?’ and he responded – yes, yes, I was trying to go as fast as I could. Give the man a break!!

  • Geoff Waters, Durban, South Africa

    Is’nt it time the IOC introduced a ‘Dubious Medals Committee’ that awards medals made from recycled plastic in contentious cases? In the 2012 Olympic cycling events these plastic medals could then be awarded to the Brit men in the team sprint, Vino in the road race and for the women’s team sprint.. Problem solved!

  • Keith Bingham

    Blimey. There I was, hoping to discover what was wrong with Hinde’s bike…turns out he was pulling
    a fast one. Very convincing. Very clever, but in my book, below the belt.
    Such a sharp mind, he could be a star of the Six-Day circuit, perhaps in the Devil Take the Hind’most.

    Eastway Fan

  • SirJeremyBeedlejuiceIII

    Once again the UCI have some of the least clear rules in the world. These kind of opportunities shouldn’t exist in the first place.

    And … my god, Hindes was stupid to say it. Nobody even considered that he had been cheating before the eejit blurted it out. At least Wiggins says he is clean.

  • PaulW

    What a disgusting article. Pendleton and Varnish made an honest mistake and where penalised. Pendleton said fair cop and said that she approved of the decision as it is better whenif rules are clear cut and applied fairly (not her words but I think her meaning). Hindes is a cheat pure and simple and should have been disqualified like the badmington players.

  • Matt

    The regulations are clearly to blame here. Hindes merely took advantage of the distinctly odd rules – indeed you could argue it was quick thinking on his part.
    I agree that the disqualifications of the Chinese and British women were the bigger issues – they did not affect the results of the races, impinge on their opponents or improve their own performances in any meaningful way. Bizarre.
    Track cycling is at the tipping point – the general changes introduced for the Olympics were misguided, somehow the Germans and French were able to fiddle their squads thus demeaning road and MTB events, and nonsensical disqualifications left, right and centre will turn it into a complete farce.

  • John Kay

    Four badminton pairs were disqualified for playing to lose. They also played within the rules to gain an advantage – but they are on the bus home. The incident takes some of the shine off the medal, imho

  • JD

    People get too sanctimonious about this. If it was cheating then it would clearly be against the rules and it isn’t. It helps that they were the best team in the tournament of course.

    The bigger scandal is that the two best women’s sprint teams, China and Britain, were disqualified despite breaking three world records. They broke the rules but their demotions seem like a far bigger issue than a rider playing the system in a way that is permitted.

  • Paul Jakma

    I have to disagree with the conclusion of this piece, that it was within the rules. The rules state it must be a “mishap”. I don’t know what definition of “mishap” the author is using, but the Cambridge dictionary online gives it as:

    mishap: bad luck, or an unlucky event or accident

    I don’t see how a deliberate crash can be a “mishap” by that definition, or any other widely accepted understanding of “mishap”. In which case, it was not just morally wrong but also a breach of the rules. They should be relegated really.

  • Mike Garvey

    Of course all countries would do the same. Is naming a sprinter for the road race or the mountain bike race any different? Or what about having an athlete fall foul of the drug testing rules then backdating his ban period so he doesn’t miss the Olympics?

  • Mark Hopkins

    I think Philips biggest problems are to come perhaps. In future races, when it happens again (and it will legitimately happen at some point, either mechanical, sticky gate etc) the commissaires will not look favourably at him, and as he is so young with a hopefully long career in front of him, I would bet it comes back to bite him at some point. I’ve no problem with him doing it, but maybe he should have kept quiet.

  • derekbiggerstaff

    Yes, we Brits can cheat with the best of them.