DerbyWheel and the UCI: resolving the status of the ‘forbidden’ new international keirin racing series

Unless you are a track sprinter, chances are the only thing you know about DerbyWheel is that the UCI has declared it a ‘forbidden‘ event.

In a statement in December 2023, the UCI declared that it had ‘not been provided with the necessary information to assess compliance with the UCI Regulations and is thus not in a position to confirm its authorisation for these DerbyWheel events.’


Referencing language used in the UCI’s regulations, they declared that DerbyWheel was therefore a ‘forbidden event‘ since it was ‘an event that has not been registered on a national or international calendar or has not otherwise been granted prior authorisation by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI.‘ (Article 1.2.019)

The statement continued: ‘Any participation of a UCI licence-holder in these events shall lead to disciplinary action‘.

Under the UCI regulations (1.2.201), riders could receive a fine of up to 10,000 Swiss Francs (US$ 11,200), and a suspension from UCI competition up to six months for a first-time intentional or negligent infringement. Subsequent infringements could result in a fine of up to 100,000 Swiss Francs (US$ 112,000), and a 12-month suspension.

Strong words

The strong choice of words, and the threat of being excluded from national and international competition was concerning to many potential DerbyWheel competitors.

Accepting an offer to compete in DerbyWheel events could lead to an athlete’s exclusion from national championships, National Governing Body programmes, and Olympic selection.

The UCI statement concluded with a commitment to continue discussions with DerbyWheel, reserving ‘the right to authorise or not the events in the DerbyWheel international keirin series once the documents and information required to assess their compliance with the UCI Regulations have been provided and analysed.’

Information ‘provided’

Speaking in February 2024, DerbyWheel CEO James Pope admitted that the company had been slow to supply the necessary paperwork to the UCI; and had yet to finalise its anti-doping arrangements.

They haven’t classified us as a forbidden event yet,’ Pope told the Piste Take podcast. ‘But they have warned that unless they are satisfied with the information we provide, that that is something they believe they are entitled to do.’

And in an ‘open message to cyclists around the world’, posted online on 1 March, DerbyWheel president DJ Hyun stated that the organisation ‘has provided all the information requested by the UCI to receive authorization in some manner and not be classified as a forbidden race‘.

Strengthened position

DerbyWheel’s position was strengthened by a December decision at the General Court of the European Union against the International Skating Union (ISU), in a case relating to two Dutch speed-skaters wishing to compete in events organised by Icederby International, a company connected to DerbyWheel organisers.

The ISU’s threat of lifetime bans for athletes competing in unauthorised competitions was judged to be ‘disproportionate‘, and ‘regarded as restricting competition by object‘.

In his open message, the DerbyWheel president stated that conversations continued with the UCI, ‘seeking the best path that will lead to a co-existence’. But DerbyWheel was ‘confidently moving forward‘, revealing that ‘around 300 riders‘ had passed accreditation following sessions in December and January; and announcing an exhibition event to be held at the Newport velodrome in Wales, United Kingdom at the end of April.

Reasonable concern

Riders have been asked their opinions on racing without UCI approval.

For many outside national programmes, or in the later stages of their track racing career, there is nothing to lose.

But for riders already on national programmes, or younger riders with hopes of international representation in the future, there is reasonable concern about the implications of riding in DerbyWheel, in breach of UCI regulations.

They fear being made to choose between childhood dreams of riding at the Olympics; and the chance to race around the world, earning a good – potentially, very good – living from the sport they love.

DerbyWheel represents the best opportunity to put track cycling, and sprint events in particular, on a more stable financial footing. Global Keirin hopes that DerbyWheel can provide all the necessary information in order to satisfy the UCI’s requirements, allowing riders to commit and compete with confidence. Success for DerbyWheel will be success for cycling and cyclists everywhere.