Cynisca Cycling part ways with board member who called on athletes to take the knee against trans cyclists
Cynisca Cycling, a France-based, American pro women's cycling team, today confirmed it has parted ways with its board member Inga Thompson, a celebrated three-time Olympian and vocal opponent of transgender women competing in elite women's sport, associated with the Save Women’s Sport organization.
"Inga Thompson is no longer a member of the Cynisca board of directors and will have no consulting or any other role with Cynisca," the team announced in a statement.
"The association with Ms. Thompson has affected Cynisca's brand and reputation."
Cynisca Cycling was formed ahead of the 2023 season by businessman Jeff Jones and sports marketing professional Chris Gutowsky in partnership with USA Cycling.
With a focus on developing the stars of tomorrow, the roster is mostly made up of American riders under the age of 25 and directed by former U.S. national road race champion, Robin Farina.
Thompson was invited to serve on the team's board of directors earlier this year due to her "impressive palmarés and a wealth of knowledge on international race strategy, tactics and training," the team says.
A U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame inductee, Thompson is a five-time U.S. national road race champion, a three-time member of the U.S. Olympic team, a Tour de France féminin podium finisher, and a three-time silver medalist at the UCI World Road Championships.
In recent years, Thompson has also become one of the loudest voices in the anti-transgender inclusion movement, advocating for the banning of transgender athletes in women's categories.
"If shared in the absence of politics, her knowledge and experience would benefit many and advance cycling for everyone. However, she has decided to dedicate her time to excluding people that are otherwise and currently eligible to compete in UCI events. She has also attempted to use our team as a platform for her political activity," Cynisca states.
The development team states that because of the association with Thompson, the team lost out on media exposure as "respected cycling journalists refused to cover the team" while "qualified and competent people have declined job offers out of fear of crossing or appearing to align themselves with her."
The team's statement further revealed that Thompson attempted to intimidate several Cynisca staff members.
"Ms. Thompson's departure resolves a troubling conflict of interest. Cynisca is an apolitical organization, and her campaign and methods, by charter, UCI Code of Ethics, U.S. law and decency, are not and will never be Cynisca's mission," the team states.
"To be clear, Ms. Thompson is entitled to her opinions and advocacy, but her methods and personal attacks are inconsistent with Cynisca's mission to advance opportunities for women. Those methods, well-documented on Ms. Thompson's social media presence, include dehumanization of transgender people, spreading misinformation, demagoguery, and personal attacks on anyone who opposes her views."
"Our mission has been and always will be that of advancing women at all levels of cycling and doing so in a framework of equality, fairness, and tolerance. Despite the negativity fostered by Ms. Thompson, we are succeeding and will push forward faster without her."
This announcement comes just a day after the former Olympian went on Fox News encouraging cyclists to 'take a knee' to protest UCI's transgender inclusion policy in response to trans cyclist Austin Killips won the pro women's category at the Tour of the Gila earlier this month.
"We're asking the owners of the team to step up and for fans to come and have an active support for [women] so that we can have equality in women's sports," she said.
The UCI's policy on eligibility and regulations for transgender athletes state that those who transition from male to female are eligible to compete in the female category as long as:
- the athlete has declared their gender identity as female,
- the athlete can demonstrate that their total testosterone level in serum has been below 2.5 nmol/L for a period of at least 24 months,
- and their total testosterone level in serum must remain below 2.5 nmol/L throughout the period of desired eligibility to compete in the female category.
While USA Cycling has adopted this policy, not all cycling nations followed suit, which has led to conflict and confusion for elite trans athletes. British Cycling even went so far as to block trans riders from competing until it has reviewed and decided on a new licensing policy, which will be announced any day now.