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Funding cut highlights cycling rifts

AAP logoAAP 16/12/2016 Roger Vaughan

Mountain Bike Australia has attacked Cycling Australia over a post-Olympics funding cut, again laying bare the fault lines within the sport.

Cycling Australia chief executive Nick Green said the MTBA statement released this week was political and he'd contacted the organisation to express his disappointment.

While BMX and mountain bike are Olympic sports, and their riders compete at the Games as one cycling team, their national governing bodies are separate to Cycling Australia.

Green repeated calls that have been made for several years that the three groups should either merge or at least work together better.

The MTBA statement shows Australian cycling is a long way from that happening.

MTBA said Cycling Australia had slashed its funding from $300,000 to $50,000 following a post-Rio review.

The mountain bike body then went to the Australian Sports Commission for special one-off funding of $75,000 to June next year.

"CA imposed over 50 per cent of the total ASC cuts to cycling on to MTBA," the mountain bike body said, adding the funding cut was a major blow.

But Green said the sports commission was aware of the funding cut to MTBA and had backed it.

"We've had to make some really tough decisions - we can't continue to allocate that money for development programs," Green said.

"It's a blunt decision.

"Mountain bike are clearly trying to position this as a rift between themselves and Cycling Australia.

"That's not the case - the case is we need to work closer together."

Green said the funding cut to MTBA was a result of the Winning Edge strategy, which puts a premium on Olympic success.

Australian mountain bikers have never won an Olympic medal since cross-country made its debut in 1996.

"The sports commission are very blunt (that) the money needs to be invested into either athletes or sports that are going to deliver podium places," Green said.

Green, who has been chief executive at Cycling Australia for two years, said no progress towards unification has been made in his time.

"The start of a new Olympic (cycle) provides ample time for the bodies to sit down at a table, as adults, and make a decision that is right for the sport - not right for any individual," he said.

"The sport needs to have that as a matter of urgency."

Green said he contacted MTBA chief executive Shane Coppin.

"I've expressed my disappointment to their CEO. I didn't think it was an appropriate statement," Green said.

But MTBA president Russ Baker said their priority was forging closer ties with the sports commission.

"We have worked hard to develop sound sporting and personal relationships with the ASC and demonstrate that MTBA is a well-run and financially stable organisation," he said.

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