Supersapiens boss urges UCI cooperate 'to improve rider health and safety' after Strade Bianche rider DQ

Phil Southerland publishes open letter calling for an "in-person meeting to discuss the UCI’s concerns regarding our technology"

Kristen Faulkner at Strade Bianche 2023
(Image credit: Luc Claessen / Getty)

The CEO of Supersapiens, the constant blood glucose monitor (CGM) tech company, has written to the UCI asking for a meeting in order to discuss "how we can work together to improve rider health and safety".

It follows Kristen Faulkner being disqualified from the Strade Bianche podium earlier this month for wearing a Supiersapiens device during the race. The American said she was "very disappointed" in the UCI's decision last week. The device was not transmitting any data during the race, she said.

In a letter sent on Thursday, and published on Friday, Supersapiens' CEO, Phil Southerland, wrote to the UCI's president, David Lappartient, to say "we firmly believe that the beauty and organic nature of the sport would not be altered by the use of Supersapiens CGM technology in UCI races".

Monitors like Supersapiens are designed to offer real-time measurements of blood glucose, and as as a reminder issued by the UCI stated, they are banned in competition.

A short statement from the UCI confirmed after Strade Bianche: "Kristen Faulkner has been disqualified from the 2023 Strade Bianche which took place on 4 March, for breach of article 1.3.006bis of the UCI regulations due to the wearing of a continuous glucose monitoring sensor throughout the event."

"I believe they are a valuable tool for athletes - especially women - to take care of our physical health, though that is a conversation for another time," Faulkner said, in response.

Southerland notes that the UCI is the only sporting body to ban use of continuous glucose monitors in competition. Heart rate monitors and power meters are permitted.

"Data from hundreds of Supersapiens users demonstrates that the professional peloton is under-fuelled, especially during longer blocks of training and racing," he writes. "When chronic underfuelling occurs for a sustained period of time, athletes are at risk of developing RED-S syndrome (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport), which can have lasting impacts on bone density, immunity, and heart function. 

"An additional consequence of under-fuelling for female athletes is that they may begin to experience amenorrhea, the loss of their periods, which can affect their future fertility.

"Consistent use of the technology has empowered hundreds of athletes on an individual basis to optimize fuelling while simultaneously addressing common health issues that are exacerbated by aggressive training regimens and diets in the constant pursuit of weight loss and extraordinary power–to–weight ratios.

"Since day one of Supersapiens, we have worked with sports federations and governing bodies to ensure that neither we (nor any of our athletes) violate rulings. We understand that glucose and real-time visibility are new concepts in the space, so we proactively seek to educate and share our knowledge.

"To date, the UCI is the sole professional sports governing body that has banned the use of CGM. Most leagues are entering into official research partnerships with our organization so that they can better understand the science of glucose and understand how applying the knowledge can protect and improve the health, wellness, and performance of their athletes."

Southerland argues: "I have aimed to be a constructive part of this discussion and I continue to hope for a long-term collaboration so that we can continue to strengthen the cycling community and improve the health and performance of those who participate in our beloved sport."

He suggests a "joint research collaboration" to study CGM technology, and the possibility of a blind in-race trial, as well as an in-person meeting.

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