By Simon Smythe
Following the Danish team pursuit squad’s controversial use of kinesiology tape on their shins and aerodynamic undervests to gain an aerodynamic advantage, British Cycling’s performance director Stephen Park has called for Denmark to be disqualified.
After yesterday’s qualifying rounds, in which the Danish team broke the Olympic record, the UCI issued the Danish team with a warning rather than a disqualification - despite acknowledging that the tape and the undervests were against the rules - something that Team GB and other nations have claimed doesn’t go far enough.
Although today the Danes competed against GB for a place in the final - which ended in a bizarre crash and Team GB eliminated - without the shin tape and undervests, Park believes they should never have been allowed to ride.
“Do I think they should be disqualified? I don’t think there is any alternative. The rules are clear,” Park said, reported by the Daily Mail. “It says you cannot apply something to the skin. They have applied something to the skin."
“It says in the specific rule that if you break that rule, your option is for being eliminated or disqualified, so they have no option. There is no doubt in anyone else’s mind that it is deliberate.”
The UCI rules state: "Items of clothing may not modify the morphology of the rider and any non-essential element or device, of which the purpose is not exclusively that of clothing or protection, is forbidden. This shall also apply regarding any material or substance applied onto the skin or clothing and which is not itself an item of clothing."
Park continued: "We will have to consider whether there is any further action that we need to take, if we believe, when our legal advisers have looked at the documents, that the UCI just haven’t followed their own rules or not.”
Regarding the undervests, which Denmark’s rivals claim were used to improve airflow over the riders’ torsos, Park said: “The relevance of that was whether it was for aerodynamic gain or not and whether it was available for sale.”
Not only were the undervests claimed to be breaching regulations which ban airflow-tripping features on skinsuits - by using texture and ridges from underneath - but there were also claims that the garments had not been publicly available since January 1, as the rules on equipment used in Olympics state they must be.
“‘Unfortunately to the first point, the item in question, which is a HUUB garment, is actually advertised as an aerodynamic undervest, so there can be little doubt as to whether or not it is there for aerodynamic purposes or not.”
Park estimated that the undervests could be worth “up to three per cent, so pretty significant.
“There is also a question because none of the teams believe it was for sale on January 1, particularly as a number of teams have researched into the source code of the website and found that it was actually published in May.”
Park went on to claim that information relating to the kit being available on January 1 had only been added in the last 24 hours.
Cycling Weekly has asked HUUB for comment.
However, today the controversy over the socks and the tape was overshadowed by the crash, in which Denmark’s front rider Frederik Madsen hit Great Britain’s Charlie Tanfield from behind, Tanfield having been dropped.
Despite the incident, Denmark will progress to the men's team pursuit final against Italy on Wednesday. The UCI confirmed that the Danes would compete for the gold medal, meaning the race commissaries deemed that the Danes made the catch against GB despite the crash.
Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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