UCI plans to ban tramadol; combine road, track, mountain bike world championships

The UCI's "Agenda 2022" includes plans to ban tramadol in competition, a push for greater equality in women's racing, and a combined worlds event across multiple disciplines

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The UCI laid out a “strategic road map for the next four years” on Thursday after a meeting of the Management Committee in France. The so-called “Agenda 2022” details a number of longer-term objectives for the international governing body, including a plan to ban controversial drug tramadol in competition, a push for greater equality in women’s racing, and a combined world championships event across multiple disciplines.

The opioid-like tramadol, currently legal, is a powerful painkiller that also has powerful side effects, including serious drowsiness. Those side effects have for years led many involved in the sport to call for a ban of the medication.

Teams that are a part of the MPCC already prohibit the use of tramadol, but a recent study showed that tramadol use remains popular within the professional peloton.

The agenda commits to a move towards banning the use of tramadol in races, noting that “this process is currently underway and in the short term will lead to the integration into the UCI Medical Rules of provisions to ban tramadol.”

Also included in the agenda is a goal of keeping glucocorticoids out of the peloton. According to the announcement on the UCI’s website, international experts will be tasked with defining “which tests must be carried out before a competition to detect a possible adrenal insufficiency which would therefore be a medical contraindication for competition.”

January 1 of 2019 is the targeted date for these new measures.

The agenda’s focus on gender equality will also see several changes implemented across multiple disciplines in the near future. “UCI approval” will be required for “all outfits worn by hosts and hostesses, or an equal representation of the two genders in these roles” at world championships, starting at the 2018 UCI road worlds in Innsbruck.

Furthermore, the Management Committee also approved equal prize money for men and women racing World Cup cyclocross events, as well as adding a women’s junior category to that racing series beginning in 2020.

Also of note was the UCI’s announcement of a combined world championship event across several disciplines that will be held every four years.

“This document also contains a totally new concept: one event bringing together several UCI World Championships in the same place, at the same time, as part of a festival of cycling that already sounds fantastic,” said UCI president David Lappartient via the UCI’s website.

The consolidated worlds will host road, mountain bike, track, BMX, and other events and will last for two and a half weeks, running “in each pre-Olympic year starting from 2023.”

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