Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

The Unrepresentative and Discriminatory Governance Structure of Cycling

Academic journal article The International Sports Law Journal

The Unrepresentative and Discriminatory Governance Structure of Cycling

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is the international sporting federation (IF) recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the sport of cycling. (1) The UCI governs world cycling and will administer the four forms of cycling that will feature in the 2012 London Olympics - track, road, mountain bike and BMX. (2) It is contended that in doing so, the UCI will be operating under a structure that is flawed in being both unrepresentative and discriminatory in that it favours its European members to the prejudice of all other members of the organisation. These arrangements lack any objective justification and are in conflict with anti-discrimination provisions in the UCI's Constitution (3) and Rules of good governance. (4) The UCI's organisational structure is also unlike the arrangements made by any of the other IFs involved in the 2012 London Olympic Games or those of other major world sports. Significantly, it is also in conflict with the provisions of the Olympic Charter. (5)

This article examines the UCI's organisational arrangements beginning with a description of the anti-discrimination provisions that apply. It then examines the justifications for those arrangements, compares the arrangements of the UCI with those of other IFs and explores possible avenues for challenges to the provisions of the UCI Constitution that are argued to be discriminatory. Finally, it is suggested that the IOC has a significant role to play in addressing the situation in cycling as part of its role in securing compliance with the Olympic Charter.


2.1 Olympic Charter

The Olympic Charter sets out the Fundamental Principles of Olympism. (6) In addition to codifying the Fundamental Principles, the Olympic Charter also establishes the other rules that together are to 'govern the organisation, action and operation of the Olympic Movement'. (7) As one of the three main constituents of the Olympic Movement, International Sports Federations (IFs) (8) such as the UCI are required to comply with the Olympic Charter and with decisions of the IOC. (9)

One of the Fundamental Principles of Olympism is that 'Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.' (10)

Another of the Fundamental Principles of Olympism provides a level of autonomy to IF:

  'Recognising that sport occurs within the framework of society,
  sports organisations within the Olympic Movement shall have
  the rights and obligations of autonomy, which include freely
  establishing and controlling the rules of sport, determining
  the structure and governance of their organisations, enjoying
  the right of elections free from any outside influence and the
  responsibility for ensuring that principles of good governance
  be applied.' (11)

This autonomy for the constituents of the Olympic Movement in determining their structure and governance is limited. It is confined by the requirement of the Charter for 'the statutes, practice and activities of the IFs within the Olympic Movement [to] be in conformity with the Olympic Charter'. (12) When read together, the Olympic Charter allows the UCI, as an IF recognised by the IOC, the freedom to determine its own structure and constitutional arrangements. It must however ensure that its structure and Constitution are not discriminatory.

2.2 The Uci Constitution

Similar to the requirements of Principle 6 of the Fundamental Principles of Olympism, Article 3 of the UCI Constitution requires the UCI to carry out its activities in compliance with the principle of 'equality between all the members ... without racial, political, religious, or other discrimination'. (13) The UCI also claims to elect 'its bodies with the strictest respect for the principle of democracy, enabling equal representation of all those involved in the cycling world'. …

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