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The UCI has slapped para-cyclist Sophie Unwin and her pilot Georgia Holt with fines after the pair enacted a ‘fake’ ceremony with borrowed medals at the Commonwealth Games.
Despite placing third in the Tandem B sprint event on the track, the pair were not officially awarded bronze medals because only four teams had taken part, with regulations stating that only gold and silver medals are to be awarded in that case.
According to reports, the pair felt they deserved medals and took it upon themselves to mark the occasion by borrowing bronze medals from England teammates, including Laura Kenny.
They protested by standing behind the podium holding up an England flag during the official gold and silver medal ceremony, and were told to move by security. They later posed on the empty podium with their borrowed bronze medals for an unofficial ceremony shoot.
Their actions netted them each a fine of 200 Swiss Francs from the UCI, cycling’s governing body, due to a “failure to respect the instructions of the commissioner/organizer”.
They did, however, receive an apology from the event organizer, the Commonwealth Games Foundation, which admitted some fault for the confusion.
There had been five teams on the entry list for the Tandem B sprint but only four started the event, triggering the rule. However, their contest with Scotland was billed as a bronze medal race by event officials, and Unwin and Holt were even directed towards the podium after their race, only to then be informed that they would not receive medals – a decision that reportedly left them in tears.
“In the small number of cases where there are fewer than five entries in a Commonwealth Games event, the CGF applies a medal allocation policy to maintain the integrity of competition,” said a CGF spokesperson.
“The policy – which was published in January this year – states that only gold and silver medals are awarded where there are only four contestants; and only gold medals where there are only three or two contestants.
“Unfortunately, while the athletes in the women’s tandem B sprint event were informed of this before the race, the scoreboard and results sheet incorrectly indicated that it was a bronze medal race. We apologize to the athletes involved for the inadvertent distress this has caused.”