Cycling team parts ways with Olympian Inga Thompson after call to protest UCI's transgender athlete policy
Thompson joined the team when it formed earlier this year
Cynisca Cycling parted ways with its director and three-time Olympian Inga Thompson on Thursday after she called on cyclists to protest against the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI)'s transgender athlete policy.
Thompson called for the protest Sunday after Austin Killips, a transgender female, won the Tour of the Gila overall category against biological females.
"Inga Thompson is no longer a member of the Cynisca board of directors and will have no consulting or any other role with Cynisca," the team said in a statement, via Cycling Weekly.
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"The association with Ms. Thompson has affected Cynisca's brand and reputation."
Cynisca Cycling was formed earlier this year in hopes of developing the next cream of the crop in the sport. Thompson was invited onto the team’s board of directors due to her "impressive palmarés and a wealth of knowledge on international race strategy, tactics and training," the team said, according to Cycling Weekly.
The team accused Thompson of trying to intimidate staff members and use the team’s platform "for her political activity."
"Ms. Thompson's departure resolves a troubling conflict of interest. Cynisca is an apolitical organization, and her campaign and methods, by charter, UCI Code of Ethics, U.S. law and decency, are not and will never be Cynisca's mission," the statement read.
"To be clear, Ms. Thompson is entitled to her opinions and advocacy, but her methods and personal attacks are inconsistent with Cynisca's mission to advance opportunities for women. Those methods, well-documented on Ms. Thompson's social media presence, include dehumanization of transgender people, spreading misinformation, demagoguery, and personal attacks on anyone who opposes her views.
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"Our mission has been and always will be that of advancing women at all levels of cycling and doing so in a framework of equality, fairness, and tolerance. Despite the negativity fostered by Ms. Thompson, we are succeeding and will push forward faster without her."
In response to the team’s decision, Thompson wrote on Twitter: "I was so excited for the maiden voyage and launch of @CyniscaC One press release, a brief pause, and they’ve become the Titanic."
Thompson won three silver medals at the UCI Road World Championships and a silver at the Pan American Games in 1987.
She tweeted Sunday: "It is time for Women Cyclist to start protesting @UCI_cycling Policy. Start taking a knee at the starting lines. Team managers need to speak up and protect their riders. Hold signs at every race ‘Save Women’s Sports.’"
She appeared on "Fox & Friends" on Tuesday and echoed her statement.
The UCI, the world governing body for sports cycling, initially defended its participation policy but appeared to change its tone on Thursday, according to The Guardian.
"The UCI’s objective remains the same: to take into consideration, in the context of the evolution of our society, the desire of transgender athletes to practice cycling," the organization said. "The UCI also hears the voices of female athletes and their concerns about an equal playing field for competitors and will take into account all elements, including the evolution of scientific knowledge."
Killips became the first transgender female to win a UCI stage race.
The UCI tightened its rules for transgender female riders to compete against biological females in its events. According to Reuters, the organization halved the maximum permitted plasma testosterone level to 2.5 nanomoles per liter and doubled the transition period to 24 months.
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Killips dismissed the uproar as "nonsense" in an Instagram post.