Prize money is not the Olympic spirit, says UCI President

Picture by Simon Wilkinson/

UCI President David Lappartient says the decision of World Athletics to offer prize money to winners at Paris 2024 is ‘not the Olympic spirit’, and should have been discussed among international governing bodies.

World Athletics recently announced that it would become the first federation to award prize money at an Olympic Games. Individual athletes winning gold in Paris would each receive US$ 50,000, funded from the International Olympic Committee’s revenue share allocation. Relay teams would receive the same amount, to be shared among the team. Prize money would be extended to silver and bronze medallists at the 2028 Los Angeles games.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said the move underscored his organisation’s ‘commitment to empowering the athletes and recognising the critical role they play in the success of any Olympic Games’.

But attending this week’s ceremony marking the lighting of the Olympic torch, the UCI’s Lappartient told reporters: ‘We really believe that this is not the Olympic spirit.

‘The proposal (by World Athletics) was not discussed. It was (announced) on the day of our mother organisation’s meeting. It should have been on the agenda.

‘The Olympic spirit is to share revenues and have more athletes compete worldwide. Not only put all the money on the top athletes but spread the money. If we concentrate money on top athletes, a lot of opportunities will disappear for athletes all over the world.’

Prize money is the most visible difference between the visions of the UCI and DerbyWheel, whose revenue-sharing model promises to revolutionise track cycling.

Sprinters have been drawn to DerbyWheel precisely because of the lack of opportunities to earn a viable living from their sport; and DerbyWheel CEO James Pope has been publicly critical of what he called an ‘unsustainable economic situation’.