WASHINGTON, D.C. – Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) applauds the decision of Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the world governing body for sports cycling, to bar biological men from competing in women’s events. The rule change comes just weeks after IWF, its grassroots arm Independent Women’s Network (IWN), and the Inga Thompson Foundation rallied for “Our Bodies, Our Sports” on the ground in Knoxville, Tennessee, where a biological male competed in the USA Cycling Women’s Pro Road National Championship. 

IWF held daily protest meetups along the course routes and ended the week with an “Our Bodies, Our Sports: Keep Women’s Cycling FEMALE” rally and press conference on June 25th, where athletes, coaches, elected officials, and advocates joined in protest, including Inga Thompson, 10x US National Champion, 3x Olympian and 2x podium finisher in the Women’s Tour de France. The rally was the only on the ground protest of the UCI and USA Cycling guidelines allowing biological men to compete in the women’s division. 

IWN also led an open petition to UCI And USA Cycling to establish rules to distinguish between the sexes to give women cyclists a fair chance on the road. 

The petition read:

We petition Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), USA Cycling, and other governing bodies influencing cycling policy to protect female athletes from discrimination, establish rules to keep women’s races female, and distinguish between the sexes to give women cyclists a fair chance on the road.  In the world of sports, it is impossible to provide equal opportunities for both sexes without single-sex teams. Women deserve access to fair competition, equal opportunities, training, and victory. Don’t let women cyclists be unseated.

UCI’s new policy will prohibit biological males who have transitioned after puberty from participating in women’s events on the UCI International Calendar in all categories. Those who do not meet the guidelines for the women’s category will be rightfully placed in the men’s category which has been renamed “Men/Open.”

UCI said its decision followed a meeting with athletes and scientific, legal, and human rights experts who concluded that scientific knowledge cannot guarantee any physical advantage would be eliminated after undergoing hormone therapy. 

Independent Women’s Forum has known this all along. In the world of sports, it is impossible to provide equal athletic opportunities for both sexes without single-sex teams. That’s why IWF brought together dozens of advocates to speak out against UCI forcing women to compete against biological males. 

“I am enormously pleased to see the UCI has chosen fairness for women athletes.  93% of the Pro Women Cyclists did not agree with the transgender woman competing in Women’s Cycling. The UCI listened to their women and listened to the current science. Bravo to the UCI,” said Inga Thompson. 

Thompson added, “I know this decision was difficult for the UCI. We all want transgender athletes to feel welcome in sports. It is enormously important that both women and transgender women have opportunities to succeed in the classification in which they qualify. Every male racer I know is very welcoming of women and transgender women in their sport.”

“Women deserve access to fair competition, equal opportunities, training, and victory. That’s what UCI delivered today.”

Riley Gaines, advisor for Independent Women’s Voice and women’s sports advocacy, said, “The news coming from UCI is a great win for the battle to protect women’s sports. They’ve followed the lead of other large governing bodies, they’ve now declared fairness will be prioritized over feelings and inclusion. This is especially big in cycling as mediocre men are constantly competing (and winning) against women who have worked their whole lives to excel in their sport. A few weeks ago, IWF and the Inga Thompson Foundation orchestrated a rally in Knoxville, TN where Austin Killips was competing to win the USA Women’s Cycling Championships. We went in support of the girls competing and urged the UCI to come to the decision that was soon to follow. I’m so grateful for the leadership of IWF, Inga Thompson, and all of the other warriors fighting to uphold women’s rights. On to the next sport!”

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