This week, the 105th Giro d'Italia begins when the starting gun fires in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. After COVID-related issues forced race organisers…
When the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) came out with their report on the state of cycling not too long ago, Brian Cookson admitted that doping was ‘endemic’ and promised to bring in certain reforms that we’ve still to see in the light of day.
But most telling of all he had to say was his statement about the help the UCI needed to work out just who was suitable to be loitering around the stage door of the sport.
“What I’d like to get out of the CIRC,” he said “is more guidance about a fit and proper person test [and] if we need to add conditions in the licensing process.”
At which point anyone with half a grasp of just how rotten cycling is threw their hands up in realisation that the game was up.
I mean seriously, if the President of the UCI needs help in working out who is ‘fit and proper’ to be working in and associated with cycling, then we’ve lost the plot completely.
As if dreamt up by the demonic angels of professional cycling, given physical form and sent to make a mockery of all the sport claims to stand for, along comes Oleg Tinkov, spewing bile and gushing chauvinism of a rather impressive range and breadth, taking in sexism and racism in a manner that combines audacity with stupidity in equal measure.
He recently called President Barack Obama a monkey, a sterling example of just how tired, pathetic and loathsome this man’s prejudices truly are.
— Oleg Tinkov (@olegtinkov) July 30, 2015
Remember Donald Sterling, the former owner of the LA Clippers? He came out with some racist comments and was very quickly banned for life by the NBA from owning a team. Some may think that calling a black man a ‘monkey’ and calling one a ‘n*gger’ aren’t the same, but I figure they should go try them out with a group of black people and see what the reaction is.
Racism is racism is racism, folks.
His take on women is similarly abhorrent. In 2013 he tweeted this gem:
Fresca idea: to sponsor women's cycling team, definitely win all for this budget, plus you can chose only long legs sluts into the team 🙂
— Oleg Tinkov (@olegtinkov) July 15, 2013
And just a short while back at the Vuelta, commenting on Chris Froome’s poor form (later shown to be due to a broken bone in his foot), he tweeted that Froome was “riding like a girl”.
In a later to-and-fro with Bigla Cycling’s Lotta Lepisto, he said this:
@LepistoLotta first all i done think girls need to race-that is kiskifo
— Oleg Tinkov (@olegtinkov) September 2, 2015
The ‘done’ is, 99 per cent sure, supposed to be ‘don’t’.
What gets me in all this is that this is all coming from a man who runs a team that relies on receiving a license to operate at the top tier of the sport from a governing body that is trying, if we believe the words that come out of its mouth, to increase the number of women racing and to also increase the appeal of the sport worldwide.
So why is he still operating in the sport? What message is his continued belligerence, sexism and racism saying to women cyclists, black and Asian cyclists, and to anyone who abhors this kind of ignorance that, quite frankly, should have died with the 1970s?
It says, bluntly, that it’s all okay.
So come on Cookson, put your money where your mouth is. Do not allow this fool the opportunity to have a say in the future shape of cycling, do not allow him to belittle any other race or to patronise women any longer.
It’s strike eight for this bully. Get him on the bench and keep him there.