Cycling journalist believes governing body blocked him from world championships for critical reporting | Biking

A respected cycling journalist who was twice barred from participating in the Wollongong world cycling championships believes he has been blacklisted for reporting on the governing body’s links to a notoriously repressive regime and a sanctioned Russian billionaire.

Investigative journalist Iain Treloar’s latest reporting has posed uncomfortable questions to the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) – the powerful governing body of world cycling.

Treloar has been investigating the influence of Russian billionaire Igor Makarov, who has retained his position on the UCI management committee despite being subject to sanctions from Australia and Canada over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

He investigated the UCI’s friendly relationship with Turkmen autocrat and former president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who led a regime that Human Rights Watch condemned as “extremely repressive.” Treloar also investigated the use of a scheme set up by the UCI to help cyclists in Afghanistan flee the Taliban.

Treloar and three colleagues at specialist publication CyclingTips applied earlier this month for accreditation for the 2022 world championships in Wollongong, which conclude this weekend.

His three colleagues had their accreditation approved, but Treloar’s application was rejected.

The UCI said it blocked Treloar from taking part because of the high demand from international and local media. It said it had applied its rule limiting accreditation to three journalists from each outlet.

The event’s press center – set up in Wollongong’s indoor arena – seats hundreds of journalists and pictures have shown it to be almost empty at times this week.

Treloar said he approached a “last minute accreditation desk” in Wollongong and those at the desk told him they had never heard of an individual business limit. He submitted another application, which was also rejected.

Treloar suspects he was denied accreditation because of his critical reporting.

“It’s possibly just an accumulation of a series of stories that build a perception in their mind that I’m a troublemaker or whatever,” he said. “But I think I’m asking fair questions about sports governance.”

The cycling journalists’ union, l’Association Internationale des Journalistes du Cyclisme (AIJC), said it had raised concerns with the UCI about Treloar’s treatment.

The AIJC’s UK representative, Sadhbh O’Shea, said she had never seen the “three reporters” rule applied and there were no space restrictions in Wollongong.

“I have spoken to them personally and expressed my displeasure at the fact that they are effectively restricting access to a journalist who has published negative articles about them,” O’Shea said in Wollongong.

Treloar said the UCI’s decision has not been a major hindrance to the reporting he did in Wollongong. But that prevented him from asking questions of UCI officials, including the body’s president, David Lappartient.

In a statement, the UCI said it had applied its accreditation policy, which states that all applications are “subject to assessment and approval by the UCI”.

“The UCI reserves the right to approve or deny accreditation via the online application process,” it said. “Accreditation is limited to a maximum of three permanent media representatives for each media (representatives with a valid press card).”

The UCI did not respond to questions about whether Treloar’s previous reporting influenced its decision.

“I’m sure the UCI believes they are a transparent organization and that they govern in a responsible way,” Treloar said. “But if they’re blocking access, then I question whether that’s actually the case.”

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