12 Sep

In every sport with an international event, there’s always a governing body that sets the rules, regulations and maintains order among the athletes. In track cycling (as well as in road cycling), it is the UCI or the Union Cycliste Internationale or the International Cycling Union.

Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) is a cycling association that oversees competitive cycling events internationally. It is the world governing body for jurisdiction in the sport of cycling. The UCI is based in Aigle, Switzerland. The English translation is the International Cycling Union.

The UCI issues racing licenses to riders and enforces disciplinary rules, such as in matters of doping. The UCI also manages the classification of races and the points ranking system in various cycling disciplines including mountain biking, road and track cycling, for both men and women, amateur and professional. It also oversees the World Championships – in which different countries compete instead of trade teams – in various disciplines and in different categories. The winners of these races have the right to wear a special rainbow jersey for the following year, and have the right to wear the same rainbow pattern on their jersey collar and cuffs for the remainder of their careers.

The UCI was founded on 14 April 1900 in Paris by the national cycling organisations of Belgium, the United States, France, Italy, and Switzerland. It replaced the International Cycling Association by setting up in opposition in a row over whether Great Britain should be allowed just one team at world championships or separate teams representing Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Britain found itself outflanked and it was not able to join the UCI – under the conditions the UCI had imposed – until 1903.

In 1965, under the pressure of the IOC (the Olympics was then an amateur event), the UCI created two subsidiary bodies, the International Amateur Cycling Federation (Fédération Internationale Amateur de Cyclisme or FIAC) and the International Professional Cycling Federation (Fédération Internationale de Cyclisme Professionnel or FICP). The UCI assumed a role coordinating both bodies. The FIAC was based in Rome, the FICP in Luxembourg, and the UCI in Geneva. The FIAC was the bigger of the two organisations, with 127 member federations across all five continents. It was dominated by the countries of the Eastern bloc which were amateur. The FIAC arranged representation of cycling at the Olympic Games, and FIAC cyclists competed against FICP members on only rare occasions.

In 1992, the UCI reunified the FIAC and FICP, and merged them back into the UCI. The combined organisation then relocated to Aigle, close to the IOC in Lausanne. In 2004, the UCI constructed a new 200 metre velodrome at the new World Cycling Centre adjacent to its headquarters.

The winner of a world title is awarded the famous “Rainbow” jersey coloured white, with 5 coloured bands on the chest. This jersey can be worn in the relevant type of competition, until the next world champion is selected the following year. It is a highly coveted symbol.

The UCI has been involved in a number of controversies associated with its decisions on the eligibility of bicycles, particularly, the banning of recumbents on 1 April 1934, various bans applied to Graeme Obree in the 1990s and the banning in 2000 of all frames that did not have a seat tube from events. The UCI was accused of accepting a bribe in the 1990s to introduce the keirin, a track cycling race, into the Olympics. An investigation by the BBC claims that the UCI was paid approximately $3,000,000 by Japanese sources to add the race to the Olympic programme, something denied by the UCI.


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