Following an emergency meeting earlier today, the UCI, the governing body of world cycling, announced several measures which will effectively shut down any races or teams planned for the 2022 road season which are associated with Russia or Belarus. However, the ban does not affect individual riders with Russian or Belarusian licenses currently employed by teams from any other locale. Some specifics:
- Both Russia and Belarus national teams are banned from any national team events.
- UCI-licensed teams registered in Russia and Belarus are having their licenses withdrawn immediately. This does not affect any World Tour teams, with the highest-ranked team shut down being Pro team Gazprom-Rusvelo. Continental squads affected include the men’s and women’s Team Minsk Club, Team Vozrozhdenie, and Team CCN Factory Racing.
- No UCI-licensed events in Russia or Belarus are permitted. There were some lower level races and track events affected, in terms of regular races, but most importantly, there will be no recognition of any Russian or Belarusian national championship events.
- No rider can display any emblem that indicates a Russian or Belarusian connection, which means there will be some wardrobe changes for teams that use flags and for present and former Russian or Belarusian national champions. It also means that some sort of “team of Russian athletes” designation like the bullshit Olympic ROC squad will not be happening here.
- As for the riders, the UCI announced several items aimed at making it clear that they do not plan to sanction individuals for the actions of their home nations. As long as they ride for a team that is licensed outside of the two pariah nations, athletes are OK to continue. The UCI mentions its concern for contractual obligations, and does not want to harm teams registered elsewhere. They announced a special process for any Russian or Belarusian riders who want to change their registration, if they are eligible in another country. More significantly, the UCI says it will consider whether to allow athletes from these now-withdrawn teams to transfer outside of the usual transfer time period — like maybe the Gazprom-Rusvelo guys can get jobs sooner than next winter? Same for staff. Finally, they remind everyone, including fans, to treat Russian and Belarusian athletes with respect.
This is an excellent plan, in my opinion. It creates clear lines between punishing the countries and any representation of them, and not unduly hurting the athletes or other individuals who, if you believe Twitter, are not all that likely to be in support of the Russian attack on Ukraine. Obviously some people will see their careers disrupted against their wishes, but this is a pretty clear line, all things considered, so if it is imperfect in who is punished, then so be it. And anyway the UCI is looking to give people from Gazprom or whatever a pathway to changing to legitimate teams.