Last week, cycling had 18 medals to play for at the Beijing Olympics. Today it still has 18.
Other sports may not be so lucky. Some are being being considered for total exclusion.
The entry of men’s and women’s BMX racing was designed to attract a new, younger audience to the Olympics. But IOC rules said cycling couldn’t expand by two medals, two medals had to be forfeited.
This has been known since July 2003. It was up to the UCI’s management committee to pick the events to be deleted.
The UCI asked 24 national cycle federations to comment on which of the 18 existing medals should be sacrificed. The 24 were chosen because each had road, MTB and track competitors at the Athens Olympics.
19 replied to the UCI, leaving six that – unbelievably – didn’t.
Of those who answered, some chose to delete the kilo and the women’s 500m sprint.
British Cycling, and other federations, was in favour of deleting the men’s and women’s road time trials as the TT event does not always attract a world-class field because pro cyclists have pro commitments.
A small proportion of the 19 federations which answered the UCI’s survey submitted detailed reports. At least two of these detailed reports nominated the kilo for exclusion. Cycling New Zealand was one of the federation’s to pick the kilo for exclusion.
However, it is not yet known how much of the exclusion decision was down to a democratic vote and how much was left in the hands of the UCI’s management committee.
The UCI has suggested – but not confirmed – that 19 federations were in favour of excluding the kilo.
Was there really this much of an agreement? The UCI needs to publish the full results of its survey.
Given the worldwide outcry about the UCI’s final decision, perhaps the 24 national federations could be surveyed once more?
However, there’s a danger. Not all of the federations think alike. If it’s a track event that has to be culled – and there’s no reason for this – perhaps the team pursuit would be nominated in any second survey?
Nobody in cycling wants to see any medals lost and whatever event was given the elbow there would have been a hue and cry from enthusiasts, but the kilo and the women’s 500m sprint are probably more attractive and more intelligible to a lay audience than the points race or the Keirin? The track time trials are also more in keeping with the Olympic ethos of Citius, altius, Fortius: Faster, higher, stronger.
Most petition signers seem to also think so.
High-profile signatories of the petition include most of the world’s top track-stars, Phil Liggett MBE, and Tony Lo, president of Giant, the world’s biggest bike maker.
Brian Cookson, president of British Cycling, has also backed the campaign to have the men’s and women’s time-trial reinstated to the Olympic programme.
He said: "I am dismayed by this decision by the UCI, which does not, in my view, stand up to any rational analysis of the situation."
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates has also waded into the debate. He will be raising the kilo cull issue with the International Olympic Committee.
Cyclingnews.com reports that Australian race promoter Phill Bates, a member of the UCI track commission from 1993 to 2001, has signed the petition. He told the Oz site: "I am totally amazed by the decisions made concerning track cycling on the world front. I am glad I was not associated with the UCI Track Commission at the time of this horrific decision. It is a disgrace."
Oz newspaper The Age reports that UCI vice-president Ray Godkin, an Australian, believes anger at the UCI’s decision should be directed at the IOC.
Godkin, the head of the UCI’s track commission, said the IOC should be held responsible because of its inflexibility in demanding two cycling medal events be dropped to make way for the introduction of BMX.
"I wish all the people who are going crook wouldn’t attack us, but the IOC," Godkin told The Age.
"They should be attacking the IOC to make sure they retain the two medals. It does not achieve anything taking them out. It’s only two medals, so what, and it doesn’t take any people out."
Godkin said he was "stunned" by the online petition’s "magnitude", the likes of which, he said, were unprecedented.
"This petition has already exceeded 4000 and I’ve never ever seen anything like that in cycling before," said Godkin.
It’s now well on its way to 6000, with Eastern Europeans starting to add their names to the list.
According to The Age, eight national cycle federations voted for the women’s 500m time-trial to be dumped, while five voted for the kilo cull.
Here’s the petition: http://www.petitiononline.com/…/petition.html