Quietly, the day before Formula One made a song and dance about it, the organisers of the EWS banned podium girls.
There was no press release. There was no song and dance. They just did it.
Not because they had been using podium girls, or because there had been an outcry, but because it’s the right thing to do.
Formalising this position by putting it into the rules means that all the 74 international qualifying rounds will have to follow suit. EWS organiser Chris Ball explained to us he wanted to make sure that these rounds carried the same ethos that he’s put into the EWS, but that they just put it into the rules and left it at that – it’s not a publicity stunt, it’s just how things should be. Any ‘girls’ on the podium should be riders, complete with mud, sweat, team kit and victory smiles.
We’ve got to applaud Chris and the team for this. They haven’t done it for the applause, and on that basis we should clap a little louder still. Influential people in the sport using their influence to improve equality and challenge failings is what we need to improve the sport – and it might just get us there quicker than the slow wheels of bureaucratic officialdom.
And just in case anyone’s in any doubt as to whether change is still needed, yesterday the organisers of the UCI Mountain Bike Cup Round One felt it appropriate to share this Instagram image. Chris called them out on it, and they deleted the post – again, Chris using his influence for good. Perhaps if the UCI had rules like the EWS ones, this kind of thing wouldn’t happen in the first place?