UCI responds to track furore

In the face of increasing opposition to the decision to drop the kilo and 500-metre TT from the Olym

In the face of increasing opposition to the decision to drop the kilo and 500-metre TT from the Olym

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The International Cycling Union has responded to the growing clamour over the decision to drop the men's kilometre and women's 500-metre time trial events from the 2008 Olympics by saying that the decision was made "to protect the chances of participation to the Olympic Games to the largest number of athletes".

In a statement designed to clarify its position the UCI says: "The International Olympic Committee had approved the introduction of the BMX in the programme of the Olympic Games only on the condition that it would not increase the number of medals awarded globally to cycling.

"Therefore, the decision to remove the events in question ensues exclusively from a detailed study led by the UCI, to whom thus returns the whole responsibility of this choice. Any other interpretation of the situation does not correspond to the reality, and must be considered erroneous.

"The UCI also reminds that this decision was taken in the view to protect the chances of participation to the Olympic Games to the largest number of athletes, given that the specialists of these disciplines are regularly registered also on events of individual and team sprint."

More than 7,000 people have now signed a petition decrying the decision. The petition can be linked to from reigning Olympic champion Chris Hoy's website. Among those who have signed are TV commentator Phil Liggett, UK Transport Minister Alistair Darling, UK MP Nigel Griffiths, Olympic medallists Hoy, Anna Meares, Jason Queally, Theo Bos, DJ van Hameren, Stuart O'Grady, Arnaud Tournant, Bryan Steele and Craig MacLean, Paralympian medallists Jiri Jezek, Thomas Neal and Darren Kenny, and riders Kerrie Meares, Dean Downing, David Millar, Johnny Bairos, Danny Clark, Yvonne Hijgenaar, Josh and Ben Kersten, Jonathan Norfolk, Yvonne McGregor, Marco Librizzi, Curt Harnett, Franois Pervis, Josiah Ng and Chris Witty.

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