Inga Thompson is a three-time Olympic cyclist. Through hard work and sacrifice, she earned the titles of ten-time national champion, three-time world medalist, two-time podium finisher at the women’s Tour de France, and was inducted into the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. When she competed at the highest levels and lost, she lost on a level playing field.
Inga speaks out for women-born cyclists who cannot say the same in 2023. “It is time for Women Cyclist to start protesting @UCI_cycling Policy,” Thompson tweeted after trans cyclist Austin Killips won the Tour of the Gila women’s overall category. “Start taking a knee at the starting lines. Team managers need to speak up and protect their riders. Hold signs at every race ‘Save Women’s Sports.’”
Just days after sending that tweet, Inga Thompson seemingly lost her position on the board of directors of Cynisca Cycling. Stunningly, the team admitted that no part of breaking ties with Inga was performance-based. The decision was purely politics.
“Ms. Thompson was invited to the board because of her impressive palmarés and a wealth of knowledge on international race strategy, tactics and training. If shared in the absence of politics, her knowledge and experience would benefit many and advance cycling for everyone,” the team confessed.
The only reason Cynisca distanced itself from Thompson is because she believes there is no amount of testosterone suppression that can mitigate the athletic advantage of living through male puberty. Inga has no issue with trans-identifying individuals—she’s just not willing to pretend that male-born and female-born athletes can compete on a level playing field.
But did Cynisca Cycling kick Inga Thompson off the board of directors? In a strange twist, Thompson had already stepped down from her board position in April after agreeing to join a new organization called Future of Cycling, which would have posed a conflict of interest with Cynisca. So really, Cynisca’s statement eviscerating Thompson was nothing more than a cheap attempt to avoid criticism and score political points with trans activists.
“This is exactly why people don’t speak up,” Thompson said. “Because this is what happens when you do.”
If this type of institutional bullying can happen to a three-time Olympian with a board of directors position, imagine the pressure to stay silent that is endured daily by female cyclists who are just starting out and trying to make names for themselves. It creates a chilling effect across the entire sport.
UCI has since updated its policy to level the playing field for women-born athletes, banning biological men from competing in women’s events, but Cynisca is standing by its attack on Inga Thompson for daring to speak out on sex equality in professional sports.