EWS Bans Podium Girls – For The Right Reasons

by Hannah Dobson 13

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.

EWS Podium Finale
No podium girls, just women on the podium. Image Credit: EWS

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.

The UCI could learn a thing or two from this.

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?

Comments (13)

  1. I think the assertion that it’s automatically “the right thing to do” is up for debate.

    I won’t mourn their loss – but if women (in particular) want to see the halting of the use of sexualised imagery to sell products (which is what we’re talking about here – and it’s hardly shocking) then they also need to complain when Gee Atherton strips off in Cosmo and the like.

    I’m totally for equality. It’s absolutely central to a functioning democracy. However, the faux-outrage around this sort of thing is simply skirting the wider debate around what is acceptable for marketing purposes and is certainly not indicative of exploitative or coercive practices.

    This definitely smacks more of imposing a set group morality that, whilst mainstream in the current climate, doesn’t have any intrinsic value over any others. (It could easily be argued that it prevents women who are completely happy to take this sort of paid work (of which there are many) from earning an honest buck because of other people’s moral judgements).

    I’ve no chip in the game either way (don’t much care) – but the presentation of this as automatically being the right thing to do “just because” is misguided at best.

  2. Clearly all the athletes from all disciplines of the sport had guns held to their head and were forced to take part in these photoshoots against their will.


    I dont care one what or another, but lets get some perspective on this.

  3. This is less about women and more about EWS trying to get one over the UCI in terms of PR. Despite it the worlds fastest women mtbers still race UCI events (DH/XCO).

    Also this article gives far more publicity to the ‘offending’ post than it would have originaly got, so well done.

  4. Men in “Liking to look at attractive woman” shock!

    Company in “Seeking moral high ground, whilst secretly looking at saucy stuff on there phone” shock

    Woman in “being blamed for doing their job, ending up unemployed and expected to be thankful” shock!

    Me in “being bored with STW article” shock

  5. Most folks are happy to look at healthy fit good looking people. That is normal. In the above image, a more powerful image would be a fit bloke or woman who have been biking, covered in mud etc cleaning their bikes. If the above advert was for underwear, spot on. But it is not. A person just on the podium for decoration? Why? The athlete should be the focus.

  6. Your all just a bunch of very offended snowflakes

  7. So who’s going to hand them the flowers now? ,We can’t have men doing it or I’ll get the feeling men are being exploited. Are there any chicks with dicks about to hand flowers out? Pathetic

  8. Easy, aspiring kid racers like they do in bmx, get the next generation of the sport involved so they meet their heroes. Not sure why any sport would need to pay for people to hand out podium prizes when the young riders would queue up to do it.

    Well done Chris, this does need calling out and stopping, save the cash on podium girls and put back into the event.

  9. This is absolutely the right thing to do.
    If we want an open, inclusive and fun sport for everyone in the future, people need to be treated equally and not used as decoration.
    Two thumbs up.

  10. If we’re going for fair and equal that first rule needs a look too. Why call out men and women specifically, why not a percentage of the field, assuming a smaller field is why there are 15 women vs 30 men. The way it is we’re artificially limiting the women’s race.
    If you’re gonna get preachy make sure your house is in order first.

  11. Possibly broader than this post, but why are we banning people from doing things (like being grid girls), why are we just not able to fulfill these positions (and letting these positions become untenable).

    I’m neither for or against this type of job, however I am against putting someone out of chosen, legal, gainfull employment.

  12. @chrismac – if you actually look at the cyclepassion calendar you linked as a counter example you’ll see that they stopped using sexualised images of women in their 2016 issue and replaced it with arty shots and in fact they haven’t published one since. So it’s not really a great example, except to reinforce the point that the tide has turned in mountain biking, like it or not.

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