Cycling states split on unified Aus body

A bid to unify all of Australian cycling's disciplines under one body has been unsuccessful.
A bid to unify all of Australian cycling's disciplines under one body has been unsuccessful.

State track and road cycling associations in favour of joining a new unified national body for the sport may still be invited to join despite the vote falling agonisingly short at a Cycling Australia (CA) meeting on Friday.

Already green-lighted by the country's BMX and mountain biking organisations, the Sports Australia-backed AusCycling was just one shy of a trifecta before Cycling NSW, Cycling Tasmania and WestCycle opposed the concept.

Cycling organisations in Queensland, ACT, Victoria, Northern Territory and South Australia voted to join AusCycling, leaving CA with a 5-3 majority but still one vote short of the 75 per cent buy-in needed to proceed.

It is a setback for a board currently navigating their way through the COVID-19 pandemic and a delayed Tokyo Olympics, knowing chief backer Sport Australia had promised a $2.5m cash injection and made clear they will only recognise and fund one cycling entity.

Supporters of the merger argue the streamlined, nationwide administration would ensure greater savings to be reinvested for members, while detractors argue the proposal strips decision-making power and history away from the states.

Financial difficulties faced in the past by CA have also weighed on the mind of some dissenting states.

"We certainly believe the current structure isn't the right way for the sport to be and that's being made even more clear in the COVID-19 environment," CA chief executive Steve Drake told AAP.

"I respect the dissenters' views, but I don't agree with them.

"(CA is being) blamed for sins of the past, but (it is) trying to do something structurally to set the sport up properly and in the process get rid of the entity that people are saying they don't trust. It's quite bizarre."

Drake, who had expected the 5-3 vote split, said BMX and mountain biking were likely to proceed in forming AusCycling and invite road and track cycling states who wished to join.

That would leave the three other states in the cold, with the same issues that currently face the sport only exacerbated.

"It may be that we end up there, just in a different way and I'm not sure what Cycling Australia looks like if we lose five states," he said.

"At some point if a whole bunch of current states depart, then it gets very difficult for CA to afford to provide the services we currently provide."

Australian Associated Press