A respected cycling journalist who has been twice banned from attending the Wollongong World Cycling Championships believes he has been blacklisted due to his reporting on the board of directors’ links to a well-known repressive regime and a sanctioned Russian billionaire.
Investigative journalist Iain Treloar recently asked the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) uncomfortable questions – the world’s powerful cycling governing body.
Trailware investigated the influence of Russian billionaire Igor Makarov, who retained his position on the UCI management committee despite being hit by sanctions from Australia and Canada over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
It examined the UCI’s friendly relationship with Turkmen despot and former president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, who led a regime that Human Rights Watch has condemned as “extremely repressive”. Trailware also investigated the exploitation of a scheme devised by the International Cycling Union to help cyclists in Afghanistan flee the Taliban.
Trailwar and three colleagues at a cycling publication applied for accreditation earlier this month for the 2022 World Road Championships in Wollongong, which expires this weekend.
His three colleagues were approved but Treloar’s application was denied.
The UCI said it had banned Trailware from attending due to high demand from international and local media. It said it has implemented its rule of limiting reliance to three correspondents from each port.
The event’s press center – which was held in the inner courtyard in Wollongong – accommodated hundreds of journalists and photos have shown it to be almost empty at times this week.
Trelwar said he approached a “last-minute approval office” in Wollongong, and office staff told him they had never heard of the limits of individual outlets. He submitted a second request, which was also rejected.
Trelwar is suspected of being denied accreditation due to his critical reporting.
“It’s probably just an accumulation of a number of stories that build a perception in their minds that I’m a troublemaker, or something else,” he said. “But I think I’m asking reasonable questions about the governance of the sport.”
The union of cycling journalists, the International Association of Journalists du Cyclisme (AIJC), said it had raised concerns with the UCI over Treloar’s treatment.
AIJC representative in the UK, Sadhbh O’Shea, said she had never seen the “three correspondents” rule enforced and there were no space restrictions in Wollongong.
“I’ve spoken to them personally and expressed my dismay at the fact that they are actually restricting access to a journalist who has published negative articles about them,” said O’Shea at Wollongong.
Treloire said the UCI’s decision was not a major impediment to the reporting he was doing in Wollongong. But it prevented him from asking questions to UCI officials, including the head of the body, David LaPartint.
In a statement, the UCI said it has implemented its own accreditation policy which states that all applications are “subject to evaluation and approval by the UCI.”
“UCI reserves the right to approve or reject accreditation via the online application process,” she said. Accreditation is limited to a maximum of three permanent media representatives per media outlet (representatives hold a valid press card).
The UCI did not respond to questions about whether Trailware’s previous reports influenced its decision.
“I’m sure the UCI thinks it’s a transparent organization and that they govern in an accountable way,” Treloire said. “But if they’re blocking access, I wonder if that’s really the case.”
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