The Inner Ring is read in high places but it’s coincidence that days after I write a piece shining a light on the role of rider agents that the UCI swings into action. In a press release today, the UCI announces the following:
The Management Committee also approved a text ruling on the role of riders’ agents, proposed by the UCI ProTour Council (UPTC), which also met in Melbourne, on September 28th. This rule aims to increase the professionalism of the agents, standardising their functions and improving their monitoring. In 2011 agents will sit exams, after which they will receive a UCI riders’ agent certificate, valid for four years. Those wishing to practise this profession must then obtain a riders’ agent licence from their National Federation. This request can only be made by people certified by the UCI. From the 1st January 2012, all riders’ agents must meet these new requirements. The UCI will publish the list of approved agents on its website
My initial thought was good, it is about time that agents are monitored and a central register will help. But within seconds I’m wondering whether this is enforceable. What happens is someone advising a rider on their contract or making approaches to teams without being on the UCI list? It’s precisely the sort of agent who flies under the radar that we need to worry about.
Also, will the UCI be able to revoke the licence and on what grounds? Presumably if an agent is “tampering” or “tapping up” a rider, in other words trying to get them to jump teams, then hopefully something can now be done. But as we’ve seen in America’s NFL and England’s Premier League, where big money is involved, big lawyers aren’t far and proving an agent behaved underhand can be tricky.
Still, if the UCI officials are reading, maybe there’s time for them to take note and incorporate these ideas.