A document published by the organisation charged with investigating cycling culture contains references to women being financially and sexually exploited and poorly supported.
The Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) report details findings from a year long investigation, over 228 pages. In the 237 words dedicated to women’s cycling, it states:
Glaring opportunities to recognise women’s cycling for its potential were tainted by a maledominated sport that failed to realise the potential of women’s cycling.
Within the section titled ‘Women’s road cycling and other cycling disciplines’ (page 70, appearing after ‘Amateur Cycling’) the report says:
The Commission was told that women’s cycling had been poorly supported in past years, and was given examples where riders in the sport had been exploited financially and even allegedly sexually.
In addition, it is suggested that the coaches and managers working in women’s cycling were often those that were:
not of a quality to get a job in men’s road cycling
Limitations of the investigation were acknowledged, with the words: “The Commission regrets that it did not have more time to examine all other cycling disciplines… [but] did however briefly examine women’s elite road cycling."
They add, promisingly: “It [women’s cycling] is under-developed and potentially offers a great opportunity for cycling."
Findings regarding drug use in cycling, which was the primary focus of the report, suggest doping is less widespread, but still present in women’s sport – stating: “The Commission found that doping occurs in women’s cycling, although it most probably is not as widespread and systematic. This is likely because far less money is available in women’s road racing currently."
The report was compiled following 174 interviews with UCI officials, riders, team personnel, sponsors and others involved in professional cycling.
Of 16 riders interviewed, Commonwealth, Olympic and World road race champion Nicole Cooke and American Sprinter Tammy Thomas are the only females.
The full report can be downloaded here.