CURAÇAO - The UCI is currently considering banning – or at the very least de-listing – Iranian cyclist Behnam Khalilikhosroshahi, as the Tabriz Petrochemical Team rider’s 18-character-long surname is causing the Swiss governing body’s website to spontaneously crash with increasing frequency.
His tenth-place finish at the Tour de Langkawi individual time trial four days ago wrought havoc with the UCI’s site servers, as tech support personnel scrambled to allocate more memory and bandwidth for the Iranian’s plethora of vowels and consonants.
It’s the second time a member of the Khalilikhosroshahi family has caused problems for a sporting federation, with Benham’s national-hero brother Salim forced to shorten his surname to “Khalili” on the back of his Tehran Tiger’s first division Iranian football league jersey.
UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani explained to Cyclismas that cycling’s governing body was currently exploring all possible avenues available to them to end the ‘crisis.’
“Reports of the website going down are true, but we are still trying ascertain the cause. Behnam’s name has been raised as an issue and we have talked about different courses of action, but felt it best to be 100 percent certain that his name was responsible before raising the ire of the Iranians.”
Pressed on whether the UCI would insist on the omission of the Iranian from the sport based on highly discriminatory grounds simply to keep the site afloat, Carpani refused to comment.
While there is no specific rule preventing Benham from competing, the UCI’s archaic database system is said to be under serious strain, and a solution is being demanded sooner rather than later by President Pat McQuaid. The Irishman was far less measured in his response.
“Do you shy from conflict with an oppressor like Iran when freedom of speech is being impinged?” asked McQuaid. “No, you fight! The UCI needs a balanced forum like UCI.ch to present its always-democratic views without criticism, and will not be impinged by one ‘agent’ posing as a rider with a long name.”
Benham’s lawyers, meanwhile, have cried foul, and say that the change is more driven by UCI commissaires’ unwillingness to write more than they’re contracted to. They quoted from a tweet by Eurosport cycling scribe Blazing Saddles, “…an Iranian non-nuclear pocket rocket with an unfeasibly long name…” as evidence of backlash against their client.
Cyclismas will provide updates to this breaking story as they become available.