UCI Survey

Thursday, 28 February 2013

UCI logo

The UCI has an online survey to sound out opinions on the sport. The UCI is often a remote governing body to outsiders. In fact its staff are often helpful but as an entity it’s rarely accountable to fans and followers. Here is the chance to have a say.

Give it a try for yourself online at uci.ch and follow the link on their page to start the survey. It takes 10-20 minutes.

But the survey is a strange creation with some odd questions that might tempt you to click quickly but sometimes the answers are complicated. Some questions are leading and you can sense the result they want to achieve. It’s worth noting this as new investors look to cycling, or if you’re a sceptic, the barbarians are at the gate. Here’s a look at the questions, where they lead and more.

Q1. Which of these describes your involvement in cycling? Please tick all that apply to you.

Obvious although the answers include the option of stating whether you work for the UCI, few will tick this.

Q2. How often do you participate in each of the following cycling disciplines / activities?

Normal but the last line asks if people commute to work by bike but there is no mention of other transport uses, eg shopping nor cycle touring

Q3. In your opinion, how important are each of the following areas for the UCI to focus on?

This starts to ask about some of the UCI’s existing and proposed work. It’s here things get strange and specific because many will not grasp the politics behind some of the questions. For example is the UCI’s role in “setting the dates of races on the international calendar” important to you? Well the UCI wants more and more control here so a vote here is surreptitiously a vote for the UCI ahead of race organisers and others. Similarly when asked about the importance of “Fighting against doping” many people will say this is very important for the UCI… but I’d say it’s important for the sport as a whole but actually the UCI has to follow WADA and I’d like to see an independent anti-doping agency monitor cycling so perhaps the “fight” against doping isn’t as important for the UCI as we might think?

Q4. How would you rate the UCI’s performance in the following areas?

Here you get to rate the UCI across a range of activities but in a technical sense, for example you can rate their attempts to regulate bike equipment. But in areas where the UCI has frustrated many fans like leadership, promoting the sport or being transparent there’s no chance to vote.

Questions 5 and 6 relate to where you live and the cycling facilities available. There’s a broad range of things to rate here, one minute to assess if there’s “a clear talent development pathway for cycling” and the next rating road safety, urban development and bike lanes. It’s mixing sport and transport here.

Q7. The UCI is interested in views on what the priorities for the globalisation of cycling should be. Please indicate the three most important areas in your opinion, in order of priority.

This is a awkward question because you have to pick three priorities from seven suggestions which include UCI pet projects like “new formats of professional races” and “new events on the UCI calendar” as well as youth cycling. It’s frustrating because for me the UCI needs to get the basics right with globalisation, for example it’s tried to place two World Tour races in China but remember almost no Chinese teams can ride these races; the Tour of Beijing and the defunct Hangzhou Tour are as much about raising money for the UCI as they taking the sport to new places. So whilst me might vote yes to globalisation, when you look closer are you supportive of the UCI’s asymmetric approach?

Q8. How would you rate your access to locations and facilities to participate in the following cycling disciplines?

This is more about your local facilities and it’s a tricky question. A British respondent might be frustrated not to have a lavish indoor velodrome within freewheeling distance whilst a Colombian might worry about more basic things. So the results gathered here should be a big mix.

Q9. Finally in this section, are there any specific ideas or comments you have regarding how cycling should be developed by the UCI?

Is an open box for you to leave suggestions. Hopefully people are offering helpful ideas but I suggest this is the “Get McQuaid” moment.

Q10. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements in relation to professional road cycling?

Here the survey relates to the main area of the UCI, men’s pro road cycling. Some fields are standard, like “Road racing is an exciting spectator event” but lower down the page you start to get odd ones like “It takes too long to watch” which I half wonder is a means to seek approval to shorten races to make them more fast and furious. It’s interesting too because only keen cycling fans will do this survey, it’s not a focus group of a typical TV audience for a stage of the Giro or the Amstel Gold Race.

Q11. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements in relation to the current UCI WorldTour team and rider points systems?

This one amused because it asks about the points system. When asked to state if “I understand the ‘sporting evaluation’ the UCI uses to determine teams’ participation in the UCI WorldTour and the UCI Continental Circuits” surely almost nobody does. This is pro cycling’s Schleswig-Holstein Question:

The Schleswig-Holstein question is so complicated, only three men in Europe have ever understood it. One was Prince Albert, who is dead. The second was a German professor who became mad. I am the third and I have forgotten all about it.”
- Lord Palmerston, British statesmen

Similarly when asked if “I understand the points allocation structure between different races” it seems obvious that few get this so it’s an invitation to disagree… and therefore support to reform the confusing points system.

Question 12 tries to find out whether you can tell the difference between the World Tour and the Continental circuits of races. But the question is more revealing than the answers because bracketed explanations are used to explain things, for example the World Tour is “the ‘top tier’ of professional road cycling events.” Respondents are also asked to agree or disagree with the statement that “There should be no overlap in the dates of races on the UCI WorldTour calendar” but this is tricky because if it is odd to see Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico clash, how to preserve both of these races whilst shuffling them on the calendar is easier said than done.

Q13. Overall, what is your opinion on the number of UCI WorldTour teams and races?

Note the mention of the World Tour. It’s easy to answer this question in the light of the giant calendar of many races but it seems to relate to the World Tour only.

Q14. And in terms of geography, what is your opinion about the number of races in the following regions?

Here you can state whether you think there are too many or too few races in each area of the world. Surely the only answer is that there are not enough races everywhere?

Question 15 asks about what factors should count towards a team holding a World Tour licence. Tick each of the boxes and you’ll approve the current UCI system but there is “another factor” and click on this and – sesame! – a new field opens up for you to type in suggestions, for example I’ve suggest if a World Tour team has a women’s team too then a proportion of their points could count for the men’s team. Or you might want to suggest a team should pay a penalty if they employ convicted dopers.

Q16. To what extent do you agree or disagree that the UCI Continental Circuit races contribute to the development of cycling in the following regions?

This question pre-supposes you know what the UCI Continental Circuit is. It’s the lower level of races but includes everything from the Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, the Strade Bianche, to the Tour of California across to China’s Tour Qinghai Lake down to smaller races like the Tour of Venezuela or Indonesia’s Tour of Singkarak.

Q17. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements in relation to women’s cycling?

Here there’s a full section on women’s cycling. If you want to see more women’s cycling then it’s hard not to agree with all the statements listed, like “Prize money for women’s cycling should be increased” and “The UCI should better promote women cyclists and women’s events”. But that’s the point, it’s like asking whether you want more sunshine and ice cream in the world.

Q18. The UCI is considering potential changes, new technologies and media capabilties that could be incorporated into cycling events to make racing more attractive for fans. How would you rate the following ideas, on a scale from excellent to very poor?

This is an interesting one for me as it reveals the fan-audience split. If you’re reading this website you’re a keen fan but remember the majority of a races TV audience is tuning in as a casual sports fan or just to watch the scenery roll by. Should the sport have new formats like city centre racing? What about GPS tracking of riders? I’m of the view that more is better but that only a minority of the audience will use these things.

Q19. Are there any other changes to professional road cycling you would like to see, or other points you would like to make about professional road cycling?

Here’s an empty box for you to answer. I suspect this is another “Get McQuaid” moment for many, the online survey moment to boo the clumsy leadership of the UCI.

Question 20 seeks to find out how much you know about the anti-doping efforts. Here you can say if you know your bio passport from your whereabouts system, in other words do you know the weapons available in what the UCI calls the “fight” against doping?

Q21. Overall, how would you rate professional cycling’s current anti-doping measures?

This should be an important question but it only asks how you rate existing measures rather than asking for new ideas. So you can decide whether the the whereabouts system is good or bad, the same for the bio passport etc.

Question 22 asks if anti-doping measures are stronger than five years ago or weaker and you can grade the change. You need to know when the bio passport was introduced to answer this and even then the answer varies because if the passport is a step forward, the UCI’s use of it appears inconsistent with budget cutbacks, price inflation in testing and a lack of support from race organisers meaning fewer tests so whether there’s been an improvement is something for an essay rather than a tickbox.

Q22. A number of ideas have been raised regarding how the UCI could better combat doping. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following ideas?

Here you get to assess anti-doping suggestions from “Cycling’s anti-doping control programme should be evaluated by an organisation that is autonomous of the UCI” to “Coaches/doctors working with riders should be certified by an independent body” and the idea of fewer race days per year for riders to reduce the incidence of doping.

Question 23 asks if you like the idea of an amnesty to encourage past cheats to come forward. It’s a leading question because it links the word “amnesty” to helping “create a cleaner sport” in the same sentence. But in reality we know little about the amnesty proposals and what could be involved.

Question 25 asks if “the current penalties (commonly a two year ban for a first offence) for riders caught doping” are too light or too severe. I suspect most people will say the penalties are too light but for me it’s not about the penalty, it’s about detection: know you will always be caught is a better deterrent than a two, three or four year ban. Question 26 then asks what should be the length of a ban for someone caught with heavy doping and again I suspect many will say eject them from the sport but my fear is that this just hits the rider with no look into their entourage.

Q27. Which organisation do you think should be responsible initially for deciding on the sanctions (e.g. disciplining, disqualifying, suspending or banning of riders) that should be applied to riders guilty of doping offences?

Here you can choose between national bodies, the UCI and others. This has to be the WADA Code so we have an internationally agreed standard rather than local agencies smiling on their own athletes.

Question 28 then asks you to rate whether cycling is a clean sport. Via a range of statements you can agree or disagree whether the sport is clean or has a major problem… or both. Some lines sit awkwardly for example “Cycling is leading the way for other sports to develop their own anti-doping practices” sounds a bit self-congratulatory. Often the UCI gets bounced into adopting new measures in the wake of the latest scandal, so “leading” is loaded word. Similarly how do you respond to “cycling still has a major problem currently with doping?” After all even if the sport were to be 100% clean it has such a bad reputation that surely it does have a major problem… of perception?

Q29. Please tell us about any changes, ideas or improvements you would like to see the UCI make to promote and develop cycling.

Here’s another open box for you to venture suggestions. If you have any useful ideas, here’s your chance. Again I suspect this the moment for verbal pitchforks to be shaken in anger towards the UCI President.

Finally the survey ends with few questions about your age and where you live.

Summary
Cycling’s governing body often feels very remote. Its President turns down interviews and a lot of the good work is not noticed, blocked out by scandal and negative headlines. For once there’s a chance for people to have a say in the governing body that, like a medieval fort, has several protective measures to keep ordinary people away from it. Until this survey you had to be a national licence holder, then make representations to your federation and hope the message was passed on to the UCI.

But this is only an online survey and there’s no guarantee the results are meaningful or useful. Given past practices many will just consider the UCI is expected to plough on with its plans anyway and if support can be mined from the survey data then it will be used.

Some of the questions are a bit odd, for example on cycling as transport which outside the UCI’s remit and you need to be an expert to answer questions on the points system, calendar and anti-doping otherwise the instinctive response to some questions might not reflect the actual substance of the question.

But regardless, give it a try and see for yourself. Here’s the link again: uci.ch.

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{ 23 comments }

STB February 28, 2013 at 10:50 pm

I have just done the survey. Quite a mix of questions. A lot on doping! I like the one about who should decide sanctions for doping offences, I picked WADA :-)

The target audience looks a bit wide, from pro-riders and teams to fans and amateur racers. Overall I welcome the UCI’s attempt, although questions about pro-tour licences and the like are not for the average commuter in the street.

And I didn’t mention McQuaid or Verbruggen once…. :-)

Salsiccia March 1, 2013 at 10:59 am

“And I didn’t mention McQuaid or Verbruggen once…. ”

I did though!

Alex TC February 28, 2013 at 11:22 pm

Well… if UCI wants to know what people REALLY think about pretty much everything they do (or don´t do), they could save the time and hassle and just go about reading on the internet, magazines, blogs and comment session of news websites. No shortage of opinions about their… uh… way of running cycling.

When I look at UCI´s various fields of action and initiatives as a whole, adding this “survey” to the other fronts (the regulatory or doping control for example) just deepens my perception that things are done in a very amateurish way too many times. Sometimes they look completely lost about what to do. They act on some instances (mostly when they should not ) and REACT on many others. And not in a good way.

UCI comes across to me as a weird, multi-facet institution, a very, very odd mix of old & new, tradition & modern, globalized & provincial, professional & familiar. In short, they look misplaced, unfocused, overly bureaucreatic – if not corrupt.

Tim February 28, 2013 at 11:44 pm

Worth doing the survey, if only as a way to organize your personal stance on the UCI.

I have some sympathy for their broader sporting aims (promo of cycling, everywhere / everyone, controlling PED use by education, testing, punishments), some bewilderment at others (UCI WorldTour / Teams calendar control). And if you think their leadership’s arrogance and possible duplicity on certain subjects is bad, then there’s a place to add that in the free form comments.

TheDude March 1, 2013 at 1:23 am

I truly hope the results are provided and transparent, via an easily accessible medium, such as the USADA reasoned decision material. I have a positive response to the UCI in hosting a survey of external opinion. It will be largely a shelf data exercise if the results are not shared.

The Inner Ring March 1, 2013 at 9:15 am

Likewise, one test of a listening exercise is to show the results once they’re in, rather than treating this as a secretive marketing document.

Guy H March 1, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I’m not holding my breath. I hope they do publish results, but given the questions on doping, even if they don’t publish the free-text box responses, it’s going to make them look bad. I honestly see them publishing selectively. I see no reason they’d be transparent any more than to highlight what suits them.

I filled it out, I was an honest as I could be, and put lengthy replies on problems with the UCI’s past, present, president, culpability, transparency and its conflict with WADA.

I don’t expect anything to be done, but at least I feel, like many fans, to have had my say.

Vanilla_Thrilla March 1, 2013 at 5:03 am

How much faith should we have that the survey results will be accurately reported?

I presume that the UCI’s internal software package will rule out any responses that don’t fit within it’s parameters of interest and so these responses will not be sent to its expert panel for further review, much like certain prominent, multi-GT winning, riders’ bio passport blood values.

Dieter March 1, 2013 at 5:21 am

One thing that I found difficult was the use of the word “average” in their scale. They ask people to rate their performance from Excellent > Good > Average > Poor > Very Poor. Is “average” just supposed to be understood as “middle” or does selecting “average” mean that I think they are doing an average job (relative to other sports’ organizing bodies, perhaps?). What if I think most sports are doing a good job on average and that cycling is the same. Do I select “good” or “average”?

Sam March 1, 2013 at 5:49 am

I imagine in the second to last paragraph the word “no” was meant to accompany the phrase “But this is only an online survey and there’s guarantee the results are meaningful or useful”?

The Inner Ring March 1, 2013 at 9:15 am

Yes, thanks.

Marty J March 1, 2013 at 7:17 am

I did the survey. Hopefully, the UCI will act on it as opposed to merely using the survey itself as a propaganda tool. Unfortunately, many of the questions seemed to be leading or designed to reinforce the course of action that has been pre-determined.

Ulf March 1, 2013 at 8:20 am

Excellent analyis! Mentioning the Schleswig-Holstein-Question in this context is f..ing brilliant.

U.

Anonymous March 1, 2013 at 10:54 am

It’s a magnificent reference, and symbolic of why this blog is consistently excellent. Great writing.

HodH March 2, 2013 at 5:03 pm

There’s almost always at least one inspired metaphor or simile per article; this was today’s.

Duncan March 1, 2013 at 8:33 am

I too want to see if the results get published. A survey like this should not “belong” to the UCI but should be available for all, especially if we’ve all taken the time to sit down and help.

Salsiccia March 1, 2013 at 10:57 am

I’ve completed it. I think the questions are actually quite good and do address the main areas of concern for most fans.

If we get to see transparent results then I think, credit where credit is due, this is a good thing for the UCI to do. Whether any changes come from it, that’s a different question… but at least they’re asking!

ironinthesoul March 1, 2013 at 11:46 am

I completed the survey. And it was increasingly obvious that it was structured in a way to get answers the UCI want to hear. It was poorly designed and isn’t likely to tell the UCI much that is useful. It looks like the questions were written by the UCI and not an expert in the field.

So, for me the most important parts were the free text boxes. I know they’re a little extra work so people often avoid them but I thought that was an opportunity to really tell the UCI what I think of them. And, as a public service, to help them improve, I gave it straight from the heart without a candy coating.

Chuffy March 1, 2013 at 9:25 pm

I’ve done it. To this casual fan (oxymoron, but hey…) it seemed that many of the questions were aimed at hard-core anoraks like Inner Ring (and that is a compliment btw, honest!) For many of the questions I have either no idea or no experience on which to base an opinion.

Wish I’d been more rude about McQuaid though. Opportunity missed there. Drat.

The Inner Ring March 1, 2013 at 11:49 pm

You’re right, some of the questions require prior knowledge and yes, an anorak at times. The way the survey starts by asking if you are a rider, work in the UCI, in media etc seems to presume a lot of cyclesport industry insiders are expected to do the test rather than fans and followers.

Don March 1, 2013 at 10:02 pm

More information about the survey and consultation can be found at http://www.uci.ch/Modules/BUILTIN/getObject.asp?MenuId=MTk3OA&ObjTypeCode=FILE&type=FILE&id=ODQ1NzE&LangId=1

“Consultation – a response to the crisis [where crisis as identified by the UCI refers to the sanction of Lance Armstrong]

In these troubled times, the UCI has chosen to both reflect and act. “A bright future for
cycling”, the broad consultation procedure set up in recent weeks, will run from 21 February to 15 March. The online surveys target both the general public and all stakeholders in cycling.

The consultation is not intended as an indictment of the UCI’s governance or cycling’s recent or more distant past. It is rather a significant moment in the rebuilding of cycling and the formulation of its essential values as well as a door to the future where everyone will be invited to participate in the process.

Who?
The stakeholders are the approximately 5,000 major players in cycling: the “family of cycling” (riders, organisers, commissaires, elected representatives, etc.); the members of the UCI and its various com- missions; the national federations and also the anti-doping authorities; the media; partners and sports, legal and political organisations connected to our sport. The fans who still support the sport in their thousands at the roadsides will also have the opportunity to make their opinions heard in another section of the consultation.

What?
The consultation will, in particular, allow the views and concerns of the stakeholders to be understood and their priorities to be defined. The consultation will contain four “pillars” that will be at the centre of our reflection: the global vision of cycling, the fight against doping, the calendar and the riders.

The governance of cycling is the common feature that links all these themes.

From this reflection, it will be a matter of identifying the most important points in order to implement sustainable improvements.

How and when?
Two surveys will go online from 21 February. One will be open to the general public, while the other will be closed and reserved for stakeholders. We will announce how the sur- veys will work at a later date. In conjunction with the consultation, working groups com- prising recognised experts from the various stakeholder groups will be set up to analyse the results and consider the subjects of reflection revealed by the consultation more deeply. The UCI has tasked the auditors Deloitte to run the consultation exercises.

Deloitte will deliver its conclusions to the UCI Management Committee before mid-2013 in order to assist in decisions on what changes and measures should be introduced as well as the development and actions required to improve the organisation, functioning and image of cycling. The main conclusions and recommendations will be published.”

In my opinion, the four pillars that form the basis of the survey/consultation should have arisen from a consultation process. The current process accepts the pillars and seeks comment about changes and priority within the pillars. You don’t consult after you have chosen your path but before.

channel_zero March 1, 2013 at 10:23 pm

You have done a VERY good job of highlighting the hidden gems inside those questions.

Surely the only answer is that there are not enough races everywhere?
If you are the UCI, they operate on the “one race per weekend to rule them all” which is ridiculous. They could easily do multiple elite races, just put them in different timezones! But, this is the UCI we’re talking about. They work very hard to maintain an artificial (to the point of ridiculous) scarcity at the highest level of racing.

James March 3, 2013 at 10:04 am

Thank you for the link! That was fun!

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