The UCI shoots itself in the foot (again)

McQuaid shoots himself in the foot?
The left or right foot?

The Swiss voted recently on a referendum for tighter gun controls. They rejected the proposal. The small Alpine state has one of the highest gun ownership rates in the world, a figure especially high for Europe. I can’t help wonder if a ready supply of firearms explains why the UCI is limping. The Swiss-based governing body displays a remarkable tendency to shoot itself in the foot.

Bullet points
In the latest incident, discussing Riccardo Riccò and the Vacansoleil team, UCI President Pat McQuaid (pictured) has saidit’s not out of the question that his team won’t be called to explain its signing policy“. But wouldn’t that be the policy of signing riders the UCI allows to race? The UCI sets the rules that determined Vacansoleil’s recruitment:

  • The UCI cleared the serpentine Riccò, allowing him to come back with the Ceramica Flaminia team.
  • Then the UCI authorised the mid-season transfer to Vacansoleil in August last year.
  • Then the UCI awarded Vacansoleil a three year Pro Tour licence.
  • Then the UCI oversaw Riccò’s 2011 racing licence.

Don’t get me wrong. Vacansoleil’s decision to recruit Mosquera and Riccò looks like desperate points-grabbing. But that’s the very system the UCI has created. Teams compete to recruit riders in order to make the big league Pro Tour. The UCI has incentivised and authorised Vacansoleil all the way.

Easy target
To make matters worse for everyone, the Giro d’Italia organisers RCS are now threatening to exclude Vacansoleil from the Giro (the teams should be announced on Monday morning). Here’s Velonation again:

Vacansoleil risks starting its first Giro d’Italia this May, as well. Race director Angelo Zomegnan has hinted he may ignore UCI rules that state all 18 ProTeams can race in the Giro. A decision may come from the UCI or the RFEC before May 7, when the race starts in Turin.

In other words, the uncertainty and questions over Vacansoleil are encouraging Zomegnan to rip up the rulebook and scrap the very concept of the UCI’s World Tour where every team awarded a Pro Tour team licence is guaranteed entry into all the races on the World Tour calendar.

Tragically we have the position of the UCI President undermining the very rules and World Tour concept he seeks to champion. Having authorised Riccò to race and having just granted Vacansoleil a licence, the UCI is a part of the sorry mess. In addition, a President that publicly questions a team’s validity and the future of its licence causes enormous damage, not only to the team in question but also to the UCI and its vetting procedures.

The bitter irony is that McQuaid should probably swing behind Vacansoleil and support them in full. Giving RCS the ammunition to exclude Vacansoleil would unpick the very concept of the World Tour.

13 thoughts on “The UCI shoots itself in the foot (again)”

  1. I wonder if the fees Vacansoleil paid to the UCI are refundable if they end up losing their licence….bet not!! No corruption at the UCI though, eh Pat??

    For cycling to move forward this man and his cronyism need to be removed from the UCI and cycling.

  2. Can he (and the rest of the board of directors and officers of the UCI) really be this stupid?

    I am sure they’ll find some way of blaming the team and the national federations.

  3. As you say, either the UCI thought Vacansoleil deserved the licence or they didn’t. It’s rich to hear the disastrous McQuaid single out a team. Is he due for election again?

  4. You missed a point. The UCI authorised Ricco’s exemption certificate for a high haematocrit when he was an amateur.

    PMQ is an idiot. Looks like another year of procycling descending into farce with many sides ignoring whichever UCI rules suits them best and the UCI not enforcing any of them.

    Predictions: UCI won’t challenge Bertie’s freedom and Armstrong’s announcement in March will be that he is buying ASO, or the UCI (again).

  5. I salute someone who can find a photo like that and put Swiss firearms, Vacansoleil and the UCI incompetence into one piece. Always a good read but that photo is gold.

  6. SlapshotJC: I’m presuming this is just careless talk.

    Touriste-Routier: sadly McQuaid has done this before.

    qwerty: yes, it’s the inconsistency. And yes, his re-election is coming up soon.

    Jarvis: I’d forgotten about Riccò’s 50 exemption. All the more reason to keep an eye on him. As for Armstrong buying ASO… that’s surely impossible.

    Mark: thanks but I didn’t take the photo. Self-harm at the UCI isn’t that original, no?

  7. I’m pretty sure every Swiss male is subject to compulsory military duty- at a certain age and then some period of time each year thereafter. As a result, they keep their army-issue gun at home, sans ammo.

  8. Same song… different day. I’m sick of Pat the Rat’s incompetence; its embarrassing when there are so many well run sports that don’t hold a candle to cycling. How many screw-ups does this screw-up need to make for people to see he is totally unsuited to the role of UCI President. My fear is that there are another 20 McQuaid’s lined up to replace him?!?! I wouldn’t mind Lance buying ASO and then ASO ‘merging’ with the UCI to bring some professionalism into the sport and realize its great potential… did I just say that out loud???

  9. I thought Vacansoleil agreed not to count the Mosquera points when they pit forward their pro-tour licence, it would help if the criteria for selecting pro-tour teams was available for scrutiny but of course it’s not.
    Any sanction against Vacansoleil would be pretty unjust really Mosquera isn’t competing for them and Ricco has been sacked effectively they’ve done everything they can do other than avoid signing riders who have issues…
    Ricco was given as clean when he signed though and his working with Sassi was reasonably convincing at least, PMQ really needs to just think before he speaks a touch more!

  10. Lance buying ASO would be like Stalin buying the UN… Or Don Corleone the US treasury.

    It’s just so wrong at so many levels, I just don’t know where to start, but any result from ASO would be totally irrevelent. Who would win the Tour? Whomever Lance wanted and he will make sure the UCI had the right briefcase to clear his results…

    He should buy WADA too, it’s just as sane…

    UCI is profesionnal – and way too much – it’s run like a bank or a Hedge fund and therein lies the problem. It has the same faults, the same corruptility, the same angst about projected image not the truth, it chews and spits out people the same, profit is the only god and above all it is most affraid of having to be accountable to the small people that forms it’s base. No one can audit or punish the UCI, it is business, law, tribunal, appeal and police. It is not accountable.

    In no system of human governance can in one hand be concentrated profit making, rule making and rules application. It does not work, it never has and never will be, it always fails badly in the end. Man is too weak.
    The UCI needs to be split into a race organising body that proposes rules and generates income, and a UCI2 that votes on the rules and doles out punishement.

  11. gildasd: some good points but if man is weak, at least some companies and organisation put measures in place to help prevent problems, to prevent conflicts of interest. The UCI is a long way behind many companies here with the basics of governance. This subject can be an industry in itself but there are some simple ideas that help.

  12. Name one multinational company of the size of the UCI that puts good governance above profit and image… I can’t find one.

    In fact there are, but it’s usually familly run affairs, not on the stock market, that put certain ethics above absolute profit: the Meulliez Group – because they are hard core christians, WV – because it’s in their name and it’s their client base, Jan de Nul – Because it’s run by familly and they treat their employees a such. But these are a very small minority, and sometimes it’s only applicable to certain of their operations. Companies are not a good exemple because most are run like totalitarian regimes – and they should be – and that’s the opposite of what we all want.

    And the leader of the totalitarian regime we are concerned of is a buffon.

    UCI, is a Union of cycling federation, it’s in the name, thus a giant “agency” and the federations should be able to have control, electing two “offices” with different power bases, not the “old spartacus boys club”.

    Am I rambling?

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