The UCI announced on Friday it would consider reversing a ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes competing in World Cups, European Championships and World Championships in various disciplines provided the riders compete as neutral athletes and without wearing any national team symbols.
The bans were put in place last March after Russia invaded Ukraine with support from Belarus. The rules, criticized as being unevenly applied, barred the registration of Russia and Belarus-registered teams, leading to the collapse of the ProTeam Gazprom-RusVelo. Twelve of the team’s members were from countries other than Russia or Belarus. All but two riders – Marco Canola and Kévin Rivera – found teams, but only one Russia, Artym Nych has signed this season with a team for 2023, the Portuguese team Glassdrive Q8 Anicolor.
Russian and Belarusian riders who are on foreign teams, however, have not been subject to any sanctions since the start of the conflict other than not being allowed to represent national teams at UCI World Championships or World Cups.
For example, Russian Aleksandr Vlasov (Bora-Hansgrohe), winner of the Tour de Romandie and fifth place in the 2022 Tour de France finished last year ranked fifth in the UCI Individual Rankings, but was not allowed to compete at the World Championships in Australia.
The new guidelines would allow Vlasov and other Russian citizens to race this season at the unified World Championships in Glasgow.
The decisions come after the 11th Olympic Summit and subsequent IOC Executive Board meeting where members decided that bans on these athletes’ participation interfered with sports organisations’ autonomy and neutrality and went against “the principle that participation in sports competitions should be based solely on the athlete’s sporting merits and respect for the rules of sport”.
The UCI Management Committee followed the conclusions from the summit in deciding that these athletes can resume competing at UCI events as “neutral” athletes so long as they “have not gone against the IOC’s mission of peace by actively supporting the war in Ukraine” and who have “fully complied with the World Anti-Doping Code and all relevant anti-doping rules.”
Restrictions continue to prohibit applications for or registration of Russian and Belarusian events including National Championships on the UCI International Calendar, and the display of “all emblems, names, acronyms, flags and anthems “linked to” these countries at events of the UCI International…
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