UCI Bans Knee High Socks, Compression Material | CEP Compression Canada’s Response

Question posted on our Facebook fan page by triathlete Larry Bradley

The above question was posted on our CEP Compression Canada Facebook fan page. CEP Compression Canada President Chris Jones (@keepupwithcj) offered his reply which was a little more thorough than what a Facebook comment would allow for so here is his full reply:

Compression socks have been banned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (“UCI”) for a number of years.

The original claim was that it provided an unfair aerodynamic advantage to the athlete.

Some say that it may have been more of a uniformity ruling to make sure the athletes all looked the same. Same goes for no sleeveless jerseys, minimum inseam lengths on shorts….. that kind of thing.

“Socks (and shoe covers) used in competition must not exceed the mid-distance between the ankle and the knee.” – UCI

The new ruling is specific to the height of the socks allowable. Since CEP compression socks are above the maximum point on the leg (basically our b1 measurement) we are in violation. The fact of the matter is that this doesn’t hurt CEP because the prior ruling already prohibited socks that extended to our D height.

From CEP Compression Canada’s perspective, we believe the health benefits from wearing medical grade compression should take precedence. A healthy athlete is going to be better for the sport but it is ultimately their call. If we make our own cycling organization, I guess we could make the rules! :)

Here are a couple of slides that speak to the issue from a March 2012 presentation made by UCI’s Technical Coordinator Julien Carron (to see the full presentation click here):

"It is forbidden to wear items designed to influence the performances of a rider such as reducing air resistance or modifying the body of the rider (compression, stretching, support)"

"Socks (and shoe covers) used in competition must not exceed the mid-distance between the ankle and the knee"

What do you think of the ruling? Would love to hear your comments on the issue.

This entry was posted by CEP Canada.

2 thoughts on “UCI Bans Knee High Socks, Compression Material | CEP Compression Canada’s Response

  1. Thank you for the clarification, Chris! The riders get a lot more aero advantage out of their sponsored bikes, wheels and helmets. Even though the governing bodies try to keep the measurements in line, we all know certain brands have a competitve advantage over others.

    The amount of aero advantage in a knee high sock is so minimal (in seconds over 40km) that it should not even be an issue. If the reason for the ban was for muscle performance associated with the product, then I would be more willing to agree with that argument. Although, not all cycling shorts are designed the same so I am sure some are receiving a positive compression impact from their sponsored brands over the competition…

    • Overall, I understand that any governing body wishes to control the integrity of their sport. Great sport is supposed to be about a level playing field, enabling the best athletes to win on their own merit, not by who has the best equipment. However, I also believe that sport evolves as does technical gear surrounding that sport and to stymie that development is a tricky slope to navigate. Layer into that, the health implications for certain products and I don’t envy the people making this decision.
      I think George Hincape would appreciate being able to wear compression socks. See picture: http://static7.businessinsider.com/image/4e172f0049e2aea912010000/george-hincapie-leg-picture.jpg

      It is ultimately UCI’s decision to make, so we will abide by their decision. Maybe the athletes will speak up like the triathlon community did: http://www.slowtwitch.com/News/Compression_sock_ban_reversed_1009.html and get the decision reversed. Since the community isn’t used to racing in compression socks in the first place, this is quite unlikely.

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