Tag Archives: cycling

The Case for Equal Prize Money in Women’s Cycling

October 21, 2014

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By Jeanine Ball – Thompson Rivers University 2L JD Student

The ongoing debate regarding inequality in prize money between men’s and women’s cycling was re-ignited last month. A member of the winning women’s time trial team in the Road World Championships and a top U.S. road cyclist, Evelyn Stevens, reacted to the discrepancy when the winning women’s team received a total of 10,666 € , whereas the winning men’s team received 33,333 €.

Only this past year, the UCI (Union Cycliste International), the International Federation which governs cycling, amended its regulations to require that the men’s and women’s World Champions in each cycling discipline (except the team time trial) receive the same prize money. This is only a requirement for World Championships. Equal prize money is not mandatory at most other international, national or local races.

Why does it matter?

Cycling, like many sports, has been traditionally male-dominated. However, women have competed at the highest level for decades. Women competing today at an elite international level put in equal amounts of training time and effort into racing as men. Inequality of prize money for women racing at the international level amounts to gender discrimination. Insufficient income from winnings prevents women who choose cycling as their profession from accessing the same opportunities as men.

Prize money is an essential source income for many female cyclists. This is especially true for women because there is no UCI minimum requirement for salary on professional women’s teams. By contrast in men’s cycling there have been recent discussions around salary caps, and the UCI sets a mandatory minimum wage for international level road teams.

The legal argument for equal prize money is based on a fundamental human right, which is that equal work merits equal pay. In Canadian law, this right is supported both under section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as statutes in six provinces such as the Pay Equity Act in Ontario. While the UCI is an international federation and is not bound by Canadian law, Cycling Canada, which oversees the sport in Canada, is federally funded, and required to abide by all aspects of Canadian domestic law as well as Canada’s international commitments. In several instances, such as the National Cyclocross Championships in 2012, race organizers under Cycling Canada have justified lower women’s prizes claiming that the UCI does not require them to pay equal prize amounts.

Arguments against equal prize money

Opponents of equality in prize money have made a number of arguments against providing equal prize money to women. First, there are often not as many competitors in a women’s category, and therefore the organizer of a race would not have as much income from the entry fees for women, so the prize should reflect this. Second, a women’s race is generally a shorter distance, so the women aren’t actually doing the same amount of work. Finally there is an argument that women’s racing does not generate the same level of interest from spectators, and subsequently sponsors.

A response to the arguments against

This could be described as a “chicken and egg” scenario. For example, if the prizes were higher, perhaps more women would enter a race. Greater numbers of women racing would also make events more competitive, exciting and appealing to spectators. Women’s races generally are also held before the men’s race, which is typically the featured event, in the timeslot when there would be greatest interest from spectators.

In terms of the argument that women are not doing the same amount of work because their races are shorter, it is worth noting that the UCI sets the limits for race distances. Additionally, a comparison may be made to other sports such as professional tennis where physiological differences between men and women are recognized through varied rules of competition yet prizing is awarded equally. Further, equality is supported by statutes such as Ontario’s Pay Equity Act which strives to ensure that women and men receive equal pay for performing jobs that may be very different but are of equal value. Women are certainly engaging in competition which is of equal value to men’s in terms of both the level of competition and athletic ability.

While equal prize money at World Championship events is an important step, there are still significant opportunities to move towards gender equity in cycling. Canadian Race Organizers should lead the way not only because it is ethical, but because Canadian law also obligates them to do so.


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Should you wear a helmet every time you cycle?

March 31, 2009


Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/outrage-at-ruling-on-helmets-for-cyclists-1645736.html; http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3563671.stm; http://www.cyclistsdefencefund.org.uk/cycle-helmets-and-law; http://www.newlaw-directories.co.uk/jobboard/cands/newsview.asp?id=1492


Read the full case report of Smith v. Finch [2009] EWHC 53 (QB) here: (http://www.ctc.org.uk/resources/Campaigns/0902_Smith-v-Finch-judgment_brf.pdf)


 The case of Smith concerns a cyclist (Robert Smith) who was struck and knocked off his bike by a motorcyclist (Michael Finch), while making a turn at a junction. At face value, this seems simply a run-of-the-mill traffic collision case, indeed the exact facts of the incident were disputed and the defendant argued that it was the claimant who was responsible for causing the collision by pulling out as he did. The case is important however because the defendant also argued that in the event that he should be found liable, the claimant should have his damages reduced for being contributory negligent for not wearing a cycle helmet and it is this part of the decision that has provoked the most controversy.


After listening to various witnesses give evidence, the court found in favour of the claimant, stating that in all likelihood, the defendant had been driving at an excessive speed and had ridden much too close to the claimant as he tried to overtake him [38]. Ultimately, the claimant also succeeded in rejecting any allegations of contributory negligence as the court found that the mechanics of his head injury would not have been reduced or prevented by a helmet [56]. The court did however suggest that in other cases, a deduction could be made.


In particular, the court at [43] stated that: “as it is accepted that the wearing of helmets may afford protection in some circumstances, it must follow that a cyclist of ordinary prudence would wear one, no matter whether on a long or a short trip or whether on quiet suburban roads or a busy main road.”


The court concluded that given the concern of the government and road safety campaigners was to reduce road accident casualties, “the cyclist who does not wear a helmet runs the risk of contributing to his / her injuries” [45] even if the initial cause of the collision was not their fault.


Although roundly criticised in the press, at face value, the approach of the court does seem to agree with Dr Julian Fulbrook’s 2004 article on “Cycle helmets and contributory negligence” published in 3 JPI Law 171-191. The article suggests that an automatic 25% deduction for not wearing a cycling helmet was wholly unjustified. Dr Fulbrook did however suggest that there were limited instances where a helmet could have prevented an injury and on these occasions, damages could be reduced by 10-15%.


Note the comments though of Martin Porter QC (http://www.newlaw-directories.co.uk/jobboard/cands/newsview.asp?id=1492 /159 New Law Journal (2009) 337) Who argues that Smith departs from the previous High Court case of A (a child) v Shorrock [2001] All ER (D) 140 (Oct) where Judge Brown stated that if he had found liability against the defendant, he would have made no deduction for contributory negligence for failing to wear a cycle helmet as there was no fault: the use of a helmet not being mandatory and the type of cycling by the claimant not being unusually hazardous.


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Schumacher (the cyclist) gets a 2yr drugs ban

March 12, 2009


Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/cycling/7928676.stm;  http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/cycling/7668224.stm


German Cyclist, Stefan Schumacher has been banned from cycling for two years (until 21 January 2011) after failing a drugs test during last year’s Tour de France. Schumacher tested positive for Cera (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator), a variation of EPO.


Somewhat predictably, Schumacher proclaimed his innocence: “One thing is clear: I have not doped and I have nothing to hide,” and vowed to clear his name at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.


Three other riders (Italy’s – Leonardo Piepoli and Riccardo Ricco, and Austrian – Bernhard Kohl) also admitted to using CERA at the 2008 Tour. Two other riders, Spaniards Manuel Beltran and Moises Duenas Nevado, tested positive for an older version of EPO during the Tour itself, and Kazakhstan’s Dmitri Fofonov failed a test for heptaminol after stage 18.



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Biological Athlete Passports

March 12, 2009


Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/front_page/7908777.stm ; http://www.wada-ama.org/en/dynamic.ch2?pageCategory.id=754; http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126983.800-cheat-test-turns-athletes-blood-into-a-passport.html .


The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced that it is very close to being able to implement the long awaited “Athlete Passport” system. It is hoped that the passport will provide testers with a lifelong “biological fingerprint” of competitors to compare drug-samples against and will be a key component in the central ADAMS (Anti-Doping Administration & Management System) Database. More details of ADAMS can be found here: http://www.uksport.gov.uk/pages/adams/


Any anomalies in blood chemistry, such as raised haemoglobin levels (associated with EPO abuse) or other biological disturbances would then allow further tests to be conducted and potential cheats identified at a much earlier stage than at present.


The idea has been pioneered by the International Cycling Union (UCI), the Federation Internationale de Skiing (FIS) and the International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAAF), and further trials of the scheme will take place at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin this summer.


Although the UCI has been at the forefront of piloting the passport scheme, and last year took 8,300 blood samples from 804 cyclists, its efforts are not currently being supported by WADA, after the UCI President sued WADA following a row over Floyd Landis’s appeal against his doping ban. http://www.uci.ch/Modules/ENews/ENewsDetails.asp?id=NjE5MQ&MenuId=MjI0NQ&BackLink=%2Ftemplates%2FUCI%2FUCI5%2Flayout.asp%3FMenuId%3DMjI0NQ

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Another Concussion report released

February 24, 2009

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Source: http://www.29sports.com/29/london/home.html; http://sports.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20090210.wsptconcussions9/GSStory/GlobeSportsHockey/?page=rss&id=RTGAM.20090210.wsptconcussions9

Another day, another report into concussions in sport! This time the recommendations come from a Panel of experts from the London Hockey Concussion Summit in Ontario. The statement issued by the Summit chair, Dr. Paul Echlin, recommends that fighting (the major cause of high / head hits) should be eliminated in order to remove the incidence of concussions. It is important to note however that this statement was not unanimous, but rather was intended to be a talking point providing recommendations for future discussion.

The panel also advised that:

  • a central ‘concussion certification program’ (Proposed name: Hockey Concussion Initiative) be set up in which trainers, coaches and officials would gain knowledge aimed at recognizing and treating concussion. While this agency would initially be focused on Hockey injuries, ultimately the Panel hope that it could serve as a model for all sports in which head injuries occur such as football, soccer, rugby, skiing, skateboarding and cycling.
  • an NHL/Ontario Hockey League role model program be adopted
  • Studies should be launched leading to a data collection system
  • Players should undergo pre-season screening
  • A survey should be conducted of protective equipment.
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Spanish rider, Valverde, called before doping inquiry

February 12, 2009


The BBC reports that: Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde has been summoned to appear before a prosecutor in Italy next week as part of an anti-doping inquiry. He is to be questioned after samples he gave at last year’s Tour de France matched DNA from files of Spain’s long-running Operation Puerto doping probe.

Later, Valverde said he had not heard from the Italian Olympic Committee’s (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor but insisted he would be happy to appear before CONI.

A Spanish court closed the Puerto investigation into a blood doping ring last year after concluding that no criminal offences had been committed, although Spanish media last month reported it could be reopened. Valverde, who topped the world rankings last year, took part in the 2007 World Championships despite world governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI) trying to prevent his participation because of his links to the Puerto affair. If found guilty of a doping offence, he could face a two-year ban.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/other_sports/cycling/7884562.stm

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Paris Bike Scheme

February 11, 2009


JCDecaux – the company that runs the Velib bicycle rental scheme (literally a combination of: velo – Bike, and liberte – freedom) in Paris has run into problems due to escalating costs. Indeed, it is suggesting that it can no longer afford to operate the city network as a private business model. Of the 15,000 specially made bicycles, over half have been stolen or vandalised.

“Since the scheme’s launch, nearly all the original bicycles have been replaced at a cost of 400 euros ($519, £351) each. The Velib bikes….have also fallen victim to a craze known as “velib extreme”. Various videos have appeared on YouTube showing riders taking the bikes down the steps in Montmartre, into metro stations and being tested on BMX courses.”

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7881079.stm

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Lance Armstrong comeback

January 27, 2009


Although Lance’s career in cycling has been dogged by unfounded speculation surrounding his performance and the fact that he (unlike many of his contemporaries in the tour, has not tested positive for any doping offence), the recent announcement that Lance will be subject to stringent drug tests, and his samples stored for 8 years is welcome news. Hopefully these proposals should convince many of lingering doubters, assuming of course that his comeback tour is a success…

“Lance Armstrong is to commit to a bespoke anti-doping programme in which he will be tested about every three days. Dr Don Catlin, one of the world’s leading scientists in the field of anti-doping…..described it as “an extensive monitoring programme” and said that it “accomplishes my goals”. He said the agreement with Armstrong would also allow him to freeze blood and urine samples for up to eight years in order to perform new tests if they are pioneered within that time. He also promised transparency with the public.”

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/cycling/article5546488.ece; http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/cycling/article5535501.ece; http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/more_sport/cycling/article5532474.ece

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