Lappartient and UCI face backlash after blocking press accreditation for a journalist they ‘can’t trust’

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This article originally appeared on Velo News

The Union Cycliste International (UCI) has come under fire after allegations it blocked a journalist it “can't trust” from receiving accreditation at the UCI Road World Championships in Wollongong, Australia.

Iain Treloar, who writes for VeloNews' sister publication CyclingTips, claims that he had a request for media access at the championships turned down on two occasions, while three of his colleagues were all granted access without issue.

Treloar has written several articles over the last few years examining the credibility and conduct of the UCI. His body of work includes exploring the links between Igor Makarov and the UCI's management committee, allegations of misconduct when it came to the evacuation of Afghanistan athletes following the collapse of the government, and the relationship between the governing body and autocrat and former Turkmenistan president Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.

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According to the UCI, media outlets are limited to a maximum of three journalists at the championships but reports in the Guardian and SBS state that other media organizations have been granted more than three spaces, while the press centre remains far from at full capacity.

After initially being declined a press pass, Treloar made a second in-person plea for accreditation at the event but was turned away again, despite the Guardian reporting that the accreditation office was totally unaware of a three-person rule. VeloNews has since learned that there are media outlets at the championships with more than three accredited staff members. According to SBS, one local outlet has nine accredited staff at the championships.

In 2015, at the UCI Road World Championships in Richmond, Virginia, another outlet -- Cyclingnews -- had four on-staff writers covering the event.

At a press conference in Wollongong, UCI President David Lappartient was asked about the situation and why Treloar had been blocked.

"Two points. The first one is that it's exactly the UCI policy for the accreditations, it has been published, it's three per newspaper and from what I understand CyclingTips already have three journalists," Lappartient said.

"Every newspaper is here with three journalists, after that I don't have any specific comment to make. By the way, every newspaper is welcome, but this newspaper used its three accreditations which we do for this event, so here we are."

However, that answer did not include Lappartient's personal stance when it came to Treloar.

Back in April, the UCI president sat down for an exclusive interview with VeloNews. A range of topics were covered, with the final story focusing on the governing body's inability to catch WorldTour dopers.

During the 60-minute interview, Lappartient was asked extensively about the allegations of misconduct when it came to the evacuation of fleeing athletes and their families from Afghanistan.

When Treloar's work on CyclingTips was cited, Lappartient did not hold back when it came to sharing his thoughts on the Australian writer and the publication he worked for. The comments were not off the record and Lappartient seemed determined to focus on the author of the stories.

"There are always big stories on CyclingTips but never in favor of the UCI," Lappartient said at the time.

"I never read CyclingTips to be honest. I don't care about CyclingTips to be honest. It's not a serious one for me. We don't answer to CyclingTips. I will never answer this guy. He is someone you can't trust at least. I think that he wakes up in the morning to destroy the institution. He can live his life, but I don't care about this."

During the interview, there were several other times when Treloar's work was cited. At one point Lappartient stated he did not read the author's work, hinting that he was simply briefed about the content. When VeloNews referred to Treloar as a journalist, Lappartient fired back.

"Are you sure he's a journalist? Are you sure he has the card of a journalist? I'm not sure if he has a press card. Maybe. I always answer to journalists and to speak. Sometimes it can be difficult, but I hope that journalists can be honest in the way they can see what's right and wrong. I can tell you in all things reported in that article there are a lot of things that are not verified or accurate," he said.

Treloar is a journalism major and is a member of the cycling journalists’ union, the Association Internationale des Journalistes du Cyclisme (AIJC).

Lappartient reiterated his on-the-record thoughts, stating that if there had been any wrongdoing in relation to the evacuation of athletes then they would be thoroughly examined, but his views on Treloar were clear.

"This guy is sitting in Australia sipping a beer. What have they done for this?” he said in relation to the evacuations.

“I'm proud of what I've done and I've nothing to report to him. He can continue to write bad things about the UCI. To be honest, I don't care but if there's something then I won't close my eyes to it.”

VeloNews sent a message to the UCI asking the governing body for an explanation as to why Treloar's accreditation request had been denied. The UCI pointed to the fact that the topic had already been covered in Lappartient's recent press conference.

CyclingTips editor-in-chief Caley Fretz told SBS: "It's clear to us that the stated reason for denying Iain's credential simply does not hold water," said Fretz. "The whole situation is deeply disappointing, petty, and unbecoming of the sport's governing body.

"We're here as Australia's largest cycling-focused publication to cover and promote the sport we love, yet the UCI's behaviour is preventing us from doing just that."

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