• The Australia women were embroiled in a selection controversy prior to the UCI Road World Championships in Bergen, Norway. (Getty)Source: Getty
Cycling Australia CEO Nick Green has acknowledged a “gender gap” following allegations of sexual discrimination over UCI Road World Championships team selections.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
5 Oct 2017 - 9:26 AM  UPDATED 5 Oct 2017 - 11:26 AM

Green made the concession following a consultation with the seven elite women’s team riders that ultimately competed at the titles in Bergen, Norway where Katrin Garfoot claimed silver in the road race and bronze in the time trial last month.

The federation was slammed when it initially selected only five women over a full quota to compete at the titles, putting the move down to the implementation of a new high-performance strategy.

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However, the decision was popularly perceived as sexist, especially when compared to the elite men’s outfit, which took maximum numbers to support silver medalist Michael Matthews.

Green denounced that line of argument saying the issue was one of selection, not gender.

“The social media commentary was all about the perceived issues around bias. Now that the Championships are finished - and we had one of the most successful Championships in our history, particularly the women’s racing - it’s absolutely quiet; there is not one person willing to comment and congratulate the women on their great success,” Green said.

“I found it really bizarre, the social side of it, jumping on what’s a perceived controversy, but at the same time not supporting success that the women get at the world level.”

That being said, Green identified a disparity in the private consultation where he called for more open sharing of ideas and discussion between athletes and administration.

“The feedback I provided to the elite women athletes is yes, we need to improve our communication,” Green said.

“They’re very passionate about their sport and the development of the sport in Australia, but equally I’ve asked them could we channel their passion in another way. I asked all of them, when they’re back in Australia, help with the work that we’ve already done around trying to bridge that gender gap between male and females in the sport of cycling.

“I asked them can they put their name and voices behind some of the great work we’re doing to help advance the work we’re trying to do to bridge that gap, and they’ve all said yes.”

Green’s stance was supported by Cycling Australia chairman Steve Bracks in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The pair have also stood behind newly appointed high-performance director Simon Jones, who has previously worked for British Cycling and Team Sky. Jones’s leadership and strategy has so far appeared very close to that which those two immensely successful organisations operate by.

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“I said to the athletes there are some errors we have made along the way and part of the errors have been in our communication, particularly as we’ve got a new high-performance strategy that we’re implementing,” Green said.

“We talked about high performance, high-performance strategy, that we are making some tough decisions now and into the future, around the investment we see from the government around delivering results,” he added.

“We’re not going to be popular with all the decisions we make. We know we’re going to be in line for some other criticism along the way but we’re committed to making the tough decisions because we know that’s going to have the best impact longer term.”

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