British Cycling call for Russian and Belarusian riders to be suspended from races after invasion of Ukraine

UK's governing body urged UCI to stop Russian and Belarusian riders from competing

World Championships
The Russian team train ahead of last year's road World Championships
(Image credit: Getty Images)

British Cycling called on cycling's governing body, the UCI, to suspend Russian and Belarusian athletes from racing following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The body also said that riders from Russia and Belarus are banned from competing in races organised by British Cycling or coming under its auspices, in effect barring them from racing in the UK.

The UCI announced on Tuesday night that athletes from the two countries will still be able to compete in UCI-sanctioned cycling races, but registered teams from the two nations have been stripped of their right to race.

However, British Cycling revealed in a statement (opens in new tab) on Wednesday evening that they had urged the UCI to go further and stop Russian and Belarusian riders from competing even as individuals. It echoes the Dutch cycling federation's similar move.

This follows the IOC's call for international sporting federations and organisers to prevent Russian and Belarusian athletes from taking part in their events following the invasion. The invasion has been condemned by the international community, including by the UN's General Assembly.

On Thursday, the International Paralympic Committee announced that it will ban Russian and Belarusian athletes from this week’s Winter Games.

British Cycling also called for representatives from Russia and Belarus to be "suspended with immediate effect from their positions on the management and organising committees within the UEC and UCI". This would impact Russian billionaire Igor Makarov, a member of the UCI Management Committee.

As a result of the UCI and UEC (the European body) stopping short of adopting its demands, British Cycling said that its delegates will not be attending the UEC Congress in Odense, Denmark, this weekend.

>>> What do the UCI's rules for Russian and Belarusian teams and riders actually mean?

The body's chair, Frank Slevin, said it was "simply wrong" that Russian and Belarusian officials were still allowed places of "honour and influence" within cycling.

He said: “The UCI released a statement yesterday evening which confirmed significant measures in response to the situation in Ukraine, and we welcome those. However, they have not suspended the Russian and Belarusian federations, and Russian and Belarusian officials will still be permitted to hold positions on the UCI Management Committee and UCI commissions.

“Our cycling colleagues in Russia and Belarus are not responsible for the further invasion of Ukraine. Indeed, they may be as appalled as we are. However, in our view, it is simply wrong that Russian and Belarusian officials will be permitted places of honour and influence at the highest level of our sport while our colleagues in Ukraine live in fear for their homes and their families.

“As a consequence, British Cycling will not attend the UEC Congress in Odense this weekend and I have written to the UCI and UEC to repeat our request that the Russian and Belarusian federations are suspended and that Russian and Belarusian officials will not be permitted to hold positions on the UCI or UEC Management Committees, or their commissions."

British Cycling will not "sanction the inclusion of any teams or individuals representing Russia or Belarus in any events organised by British Cycling or coming under the auspices of British Cycling". This means that Russian or Belarusian riders could not ride the Tour of Britain, for example, whichever team they rode for under the rules.

Slevin also said that he had extended "a hand of friendship and to offer help" to the president of the Ukrainian cycling federation, Andriy Grivko.

The statement read: “I am also acutely mindful of the responsibility British Cycling shares with the international cycling community to support our colleagues in Ukraine. With that in mind, I wrote yesterday to the president of the Ukrainian cycling federation, Andriy Grivko, to extend a hand of friendship and to offer help, where we can, to enable his riders and officials to continue to represent their country.”

On Wednesday, Grivko told Cycling Weekly that one of his coaches, Alexander Kulyk, was killed in a Russian attack this week.

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