Women’s cycling race caught in transgender rights row as sponsor withdraws funding

A prominent women’s cycling race faces a fight for its future after its title sponsor with drawn funding in a row over transgender rights in sport.

The Women’s CiCLE Classic is set to take place in Derbyshire in June, but this week its main benefactor Peter Stanton withdrew his support in reaction to the British Cycling’s decision to suspend its transgender policy.

The move by British Cycling has effectively banned transgender riders like Emily Bridges from competing in women’s races. bridges had taken medication to reduce her testosterone levels to cycling’s required limits and had been due to compete at the National Omnium Championships in Derby earlier this month, but the sport’s world governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), blocked her participation because it had not yet deemed her eligible to race in international competitions.

Non-transgender female athletes had been considering boycotting the event if Bridges had been allowed to compete, and British Cycling’s head of Olympic programs Sara Symington co-signed a letter to the UCI earlier this week criticizing its current policy on transgender inclusion, claiming current rules do not guarantee female athletes fair and meaningful competition.

British Cycling confirmed that its policy, which was only ratified in January, was now suspended pending a review.

speaking to The British ContinentalStanton explained: “The transgender policy adopted by British Cycling had been the result of a full consultation process and was believed to have been working well until last week when it was suspended without any further consultation.

“Whilst fully supportive of women’s sport, I also have many friends and colleagues within the transgender community whom I feel that I would be letting down if I did not make a stand to show my support for their rights. This is not the first case of a transgender rider competing under UCI rules, or even as part of an official UCI team, and to arbitrarily change that position based on one individual case, I find totally unacceptable.

“I am desperately saddened by the Emily Bridges case and the actions that it has prompted me to take. I sincerely hope that a satisfactory resolution to her case de ella and that of similar cases in the future can be quickly found in the interests of all parties involved, and sport in general. ”

Stanton’s move leaves the CiCLE Classic searching for £15,000 by 10 May in order to go ahead. Two campaign groups for women’s rights, Sex Matters and Fair Play For Women, announced they had made a formal joint offer to back the race.

The race organizer Colin Clews said there had been overwhelming support for his appeal to help stage the race, but added he was hesitant to accept funding from campaign groups at the risk of politicizing the event.

Clews told the BBC: “We are a cycling event, our objective is to pursue women’s cycling and to promote it at its highest possible level in this country but I have colleagues who have reservations with regard to the potential link to women’s rights groups that might indicate to anyone out there, or certain individuals out there, a politicizing of the event.”


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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