by: Mark Cahill
Posted on: Thursday, August 14th, 2008 at 9:13 am by: Mark Cahill
(See the bottom of this article for a summary of news from the Olympics today that interest the Cycling world).
Did Cash Buy the Keirin Into the Olympics?
Late last month, BBCNews.com ran a story alleging that the Keirin event was included in the 2008 Olympics not due to merit, but because payments had been made to certain officials. From that article:
Documents given to the BBC suggest that $3m (£1.5m) was paid by organisers of a Japanese cycling event to the UCI – the world cycling body.
The payments were allegedly made in the 1990s. The event, called the keirin, was supported for inclusion into the Games by the UCI, and admitted in 1996.
The UCI and its president at the time, Hein Verbruggen, deny any wrongdoing.
A denial from both parties was run the following day on Guardian.co.uk:
But Hein Verbruggen, the president of the UCI from 1991 to 2005 and now in charge of the organising committee for the Beijing Games, insisted the process was above board. “It’s been done in total transparency. This was done for the development of track cycling around the world,” he told the BBC.
Mr Karamasu, of Japan’s Keirin Association, also denied the claims, saying: “No transfer of money took place. What we did is that we supported establishing the cycling training centres in Japan and also we paid the set amount that all the national federations pay for membership … sort of a membership fee.
“I have to say I do not know about it at all. I have been in this position up until 1998, however I’ve never heard of any direct payment of money or cash.”
It would seem the issue has died there. There is no discussion of a formal investigation or follow up on these allegations. Unfortunately for the Keirin, which is a sport that is incredibly poplular with Japanese bettors, the gambling popularity casts a shadow upon it.
The best hope for the sport is that cycling enthusiasts and the sporting world at large will discover this vastly underrated sport via the Olympics. I challenge you – watch and I can virtually guarantee you’ll become as hooked as I am!
In Olympics News This Morning:
After no track medals in Athens, US cyclists aim high- NBCOlympics.com –
USA Cycling team leader Pat McDonough isn’t keen on making his Olympic medal expectations public, saying he wouldn’t want to place added pressure on American racers.
He couldn’t help but share one prediction, however.
“I do believe we won’t be shut out, that’s for sure,” McDonough said.
If the world championships are any guide, Britain should expect a gold rush when the Olympic track cycling begins on Friday at the Laoshan velodrome.
Britain won nine golds out of 18 events at the worlds in March on home turf in Manchester, northwest England, but France and the Netherlands aim to spoil their party in the sprint events.
“It’s absolutely the best British team that’s ever left British shores,” said Britain’s Performance Director Dave Brailsford.
Evans, who finished fifth in the men’s road cycling individual time trial yesterday suffering a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, is an outspoken supporter of a free Tibet.
The Tour de France runner-up has been widely shown wearing “Free Tibet” slogans on his racing gear and has a link on his website to another site where people can buy pro-Tibet merchandise.