Thursday Shorts

The accounts are out for the Critérium du Dauphiné. Breaking down the revenue sources and costs for a World Tour stage race would be a fascinating exercise but it’s commercially confidential for starters and the accounts for the Dauphiné are so economic on detail that there’s no chance of writing much about them. All we know is the race budget is around €2 million and for 2014 the race generated a profit €46,383, down from €64,734 the previous year.

We don’t know if the accounts are true to the race itself, that they represent the full turnover and net profit of the race for ASO, it could be some revenue and costs are channelled via other corporate entities within ASO. But if they are reflective of the race’s financial situation it’s another reminder of how the top races aren’t money spinners.

World Tour: The Dauphiné was where things finally clicked for MTN-Qhubeka, their sprinter-heavy format had largely been a failure until Daniel Teklehaimanot took off on a stage and racked up points for the mountains jersey, earning him a start in the Tour de France and that opening week polka dot triumph. Dimension Data line up an extra sponsor for 2016 and everything points to the team joining the World Tour. They’re recruited extra riders and yesterday announced the arrival of Roger Hammond as a new manager. Do they need to be in the World Tour? No but it brings some extra certainty and sponsors like DiData will take satisfaction from backing a prime team rather than a second division one.

As mentioned before the danger is the team loses the “underdog” label and the message of growth and hope. They have traded on the “Africa rising” aspect but obviously they’re increasingly corporate. The new sponsor announced yesterday, Sapinda, isn’t exactly a fairtrade coffee initiative, they’re a sharp-elbowed investment fund run out of the Netherlands. On top of this the team is dropping its links with the UCI’s African cycling base.

From perceptive subtleties to grim realities and a small note on those Eritrean fans. It’s great to see support for the likes of Teklehaimanot and the national pride. However Eritrea is a dire place, the kind that sits alongside North Korea, Turkmenistan and Syria and others in the gruppetto of pariah states when it comes to human rights, press freedom and other rankings. Cycling could be something to cheer but it is also something exploited by the dictatorship, dodgy regimes use sporting success for their own ends. During the Tour cinemas were requisitioned to show the Tour de France, the kind of repression those resorting to furtive streams to watch a race could get behind. Every time I see an Eritrean rider posing with a smiling ambassador or government official I can’t help wondering if it’s an obligation in case their family suffers reprisals. Are Eritrean fans on the startline of a race are refugees celebrating someone who’s succeeded in their flight from the country; are they goons bussed in by the embassy to wave the flag; or just sports fans like many others?

Timmer Brown
Coming to a winery near you

Talking of dodgy dealings Aaron Brown has resurfaced in Spain after vanishing with the Kimmage Fund money. As you’ll remember many cycling fans donated money to help Irish journalist defend a libel case brought against him the UCI only for a large proportion of the money to vanish with Brown. Now using the alias of Timmer Brown he’s promoting Catalonian wines. We’ll probably never see the money back and donors can only *chuckle* about that but there’s a serious concern for people in Spain and beyond who need to be cautious especially if Brown is running low on money.

Finally Lloyd Mondory’s reasoned decision is on the UCI website (PDF) but only in French for now. In summary he was busted for EPO and the document details how he claimed the EPO was naturally generated but didn’t supply any proof to support this. He claimed the positive test was an error but turned down the chance to test the B-sample, in fact he dodged a lot of efforts by the UCI to contact him over the case to arrange the B-sample test with dates and deadlines regularly ignored until finally the UCI told him they’d prosecute regardless. All this goes a long way to explaining why the case took so long before the UCI’s Anti-Doping Tribunal could hear the case.

71 thoughts on “Thursday Shorts”

  1. Well done for pointing out the truth about Eritrea – I’ve never heard that mentioned anywhere in cycling. Is the Tour of Eritrea still going? Clearly this is a country that should face a sporting boycott.

    • Whilst it’s presumptuous for Eritrea to force every cinema in the Country to show la Tour in July, it’s equally PRESUMPTUOUS for people in the WEST to ASSUME that Eritrea fans cheered at roadside because their government forces them to rather than out of genuine pride for their fellow countryman.

      At the end of the day, nationalism is nationalism. I doubt Eritrea government can make their people like them more by promoting cycling & Teklehaimanot. The effect However will make their people feel prouder of their own country. One day that proud may stimulate them to get rid of the current regime which is dragging the country backwards.

      In that sense this is no different from what the British Government is achieving with London 2012.

      • Nationalism almost always results in the present regime being viewed more favourably. That’s why governments love it. (Why else would they spend billions on the Olympics? Or requisition cinemas?)

  2. Yes thanks for bringing up the political state of Eritrea. Sounds like only a matter of time before Cameron’s unrolling the red carpet to welcome in its leaders and do a spot of arms selling.

      • I’m sure that they aren’t bussed in, they are real fans. At the very least they are real fans of other Eritreans, if not necessarily cycling as a whole. I lived with an Eritrean last year and they are very proud of each other, and very much love their country, they just can’t live under the people that currently run it, and so have to find somewhere else to be. This much I can be fairly sure of, and the supporters hope that by attending events like TdF that they raise awareness of what is happening back home, I guess that isn’t really happening (or maybe with stories like this it is, but slowly).

        Now for a spot of pure speculation on my part. I think that the likes of Teklehaimanot and Kudus are probably greatly conflicted when they compete, because I severely doubt they want to give credibility to the regime but also love/want to compete for their country. I imagine it adds a level of complexity to their lives that a person like me could never fully understand and makes success even more richly deserved.

        • There are a number of Eritrean cafes in my bit of South London, and they have plenty of Teklehaimanot posters up. He seems to be genuinely supported, by ex-pats. Whether they are pro-regime or exiles/refugees from it, I can’t tell.

          • I don’t think there are any pro-regime Eritreans outside Eritrea, (except perhaps government officials on business/propaganda trips). The thing is that leaving the country is banned, and the government sees anyone that does manage to leave as a traitor. That said I guess it’s not completely beyond the bounds of possibility that there couple be a few regime supporters floating around.

            Thanks to Mr. Inrng for bringing this up, and if anyone has been surprised by this news and feels moved to help, there are worse places to start than with a donation to Human Rights Watch.

  3. Speaking of political states and states, this summer, the UCI was searching for at commissaire to do the Tour of Syria – Apparently the event was set to run despite the situation.

  4. Eritrea. no 166 on Transparency Intl’s CPI’s Corruption Perceptions Index, a handful away from the bottom and worst (Somalia), and languishing neatly between Yemen and Libya.

    In the top 4 of the most corrupt African countries

    ‘People are living in a fear-ridden environment. Corruption and greed are rampant amongst members of the ruling party’

      • Having actually been to North Korea I must question that claim. Being a journalist can get your refused a visa to enter the DPRK, so I think it’s probably the fact that Eritrea has 16 journalists in prison currently, whereas with North Korea all media workers either run the party line or don’t exist (or are only let into the country via deception as with the late Christopher Hitchens).

    • Absolutely sharing inrng’s worries about Eritrea, we should nevertheless be very careful when referring to those indices – they’re often more of a political tool than serious studies grounded on any sort of scientific basis.

      • Hey, with profit margins of 2.3% like the Dauphine, now we know why the UCI don’t get *too* picky on adding the new Arabic Peninsula races to the calendar..

        • Theoretically, in a *pure* capitalism (any meaning of the adjective you might want to apply is appropriate), the profits should tend to zero ^__^
          Jokes apart, the economic meaning of the Dauphiné doesn’t lie in the profit it makes, it would make sense for ASO to run it even if they were losing money.

        • I can’t use to argue much more than Wikipedia and just a couple of critical articles I’ve read on the subject, hence I won’t dispute in detail, still I can’t avoid to think that prudence is paramount.

          First of all, it may have validity when measuring what it pretends to measure, that is “perceived corruption”, not when trying to assess anything else about “actual corruption” (hard to measure, indeed).
          But “the misuse of public power for private benefit” (that’s how they define corruption, according to Wiki) can take *very* different forms and some of them might be socially accepted, or even welcome, in those high RGDP/Cap countries which score better on the index.

          What is more, it looks like they’re now using reports by “business people” and “analysts”, a number of whom are from institutions which are better known for their ideological approach than for their rigorous scientific attitude. Freedom House? World Bank? The World Economic Forum? O__o
          And I wouldn’t feel good about Bertelsmann, either.

          Personally, I trust projects depending on which institutions are involved, and in this case I consider it might be quite biased both from a cultural and an ideological POV.
          But that’s a personal opinion.
          However, the arguments to support the index I’ve read – on Wiki ^__^ – are only the correlations with “Black Market activity” (hard to define, hard to measure, not valid for several countries, culturally biased) and “overabundance of regulation” (hard to define, hard to measure, ideologically biased). Both correlations are weaker than the one with RGDP/Cap.

          • Seriously, gabriele, you want to spend time on a cycling blog arguing the toss on this? Just to try to prove a personal viewpoint relating to geopolitics research and analysis?

            Nope. I’m out.

          • Gabriele said to be careful when quoting internationally recognisable indices… but quotes Wiki in his argument… hmmm – gabriele I have a bottle of air to sell for $3,402.

            just kidding but c’mon I agree with these guys, let’s keep human rights source debates out of here. The point is, Eritrea is corrupt and cycling helps to showcase this issue. Hopefully some good can come from this exposure.

        • -1.
          You can’t really say ‘I’m versed in international politics’ and then refuse to back that up or discuss anything.
          Especially as Sam brought it up in the first place.
          Fine to just not say it.
          Rude elsewhere on this page too.

      • Perhaps, but the broad brush impressions they give are usually valid: countries near the top of the corruption index are generally likely to be more corrupt than those near the bottom.

        That aside, I wonder how sporting federations would fare when appraised by these indices.

  5. Is Google Translator working well when it tells me reading your Twitter that the likes of Kamala and Berezov (plus Gussiatnikov) are now members of some UCI commissions?
    Which commissions?
    Is it the right time to take on board the – former? – Executive Director of RUSADA (!!!) and a – former? – member of the anti-doping commission of the Russian athletics federation (!!!), acting as an advisor for ARAF while defending in TAS trials several athletes who were there precisely because their antidoping sample were being switched with someone else’s to fly over the tests?

    • Kamala/Kamaev (I found both transcription, strange, it sounds quite different, *in Italian* at least) now sits in the UCI antidoping commission and Berezov in the disciplinary commission.

    • Cookson today: “I’m confident that the people running the Russian Cycling Federation are trying to do the right thing and I’m sure that if there were any problems there, they would not want to cover them up at all.”

      That seems like it might well become another sweeping statement that comes back to haunt him.

      It’s hard to see how someone who was neutral on this matter could look at Russian cycling and have any level of confidence.

      • What amazes me is that the people the UCI has apparently taken on board are *not* just from Russian Cycling (Gussiatnikov is) but they’re people who were directly involved with Athletics and who, for example, were defending in the court positive track & field athletes that had been covered up (everyone deserves a defense, I know), who supported reduced bans in borderline cases (“the athlete was suffering from a cold and took a forbidden substance, no TUE, but we believed that it was bona fide”) and, well, that in Kamaev’s case he could be considered – albeit maybe indirectly – responsible of the lab being the chief of the national antidoping office.
        It’s an awful PR move, at least.
        I’m not worried about Russian cycling, as in “is it to be trusted or not when we see what happened in athletics?”, I’m worried about international cycling, because to include in your antidoping and disciplinary commission those profiles is a – perhaps unintended? – *very strong* message.
        Too awkward to be true, I’m still waiting some sort of confirmation from inrng, because it might also be a joke or something like that, it’s hard to judge from a source I don’t know, in a language I don’t know.

      • That comment seems very business speak to me. Like the sales director telling his team, “I am confident in our team’s professionalism and work ethic. I have no doubt they will meet all revenue projections for the quarter.” but I’d like to see the follow up caveat, if they don’t, they might want to brush up their resume’.

    • Appointments eg Kamaev were made in 2013. The WADA IC report has only just broken.

      The question is not ‘is it the right time to take on board…’, but instead ‘should such people retain any seats they have on any commission’

      • True, the Russian article looks like having been published in November, 2013. I’ve been mislead by the Twitter feed. That means way less implications in present “message” terms, maybe some more implications when considering UCI policies in the last two years (or a past “message”). An analysis on how those commissions worked and how significant the Russian presence was would be interesting. Your second question is equally interesting, anyway.

          • Without waiting any further, it’s a fine information in itself. Good to know, that’s all – since, luckily enough, I’m not the one who needs to take a course of action.
            Sure, what happens next will also be interesting, but it doesn’t change much of what has happened before.

      • Besides, the activity and attitude of Berezov both as an ARAF advisor in TAS cases and as a member of the antidoping commission for the Athletics Federation was earlier and had received visibility in English-language media as well as in official TAS papers.

        • Doesnt mean to say it was read by anyone – or anyone with influence – in Aigle.

          Federations put forward representatives to sports governing bodies, for various panels and commissions. In some cases, people get voted on.

          To expect some kind of shiney radar detection at work is to expect too much of any organisation, in the sports governance world or indeed in most other types of bodies. Thats la la land, I’m afraid.

          • Googling people (Google, you know, no secret dossier whatsoever) you’re appointing to your disciplinary commission is “expecting too much”?
            You sure don’t expect a lot.
            Most type of private bodies usually do that with their job candidates, whatever the position. I don’t expect they were going further than “name surname” on Google. But, yes, they probably needed to go past page 1 and land on page 2, and that’s really a pain in the a**.

    • Jeez, that Cookson bloke, Gabriele – he’s a shifty old crook, isn’t he?
      Appoints 3 Russians to top jobs in 2013 in the full knowledge that they’ll be exposed as fiends by WADA in 2015.
      There’s just no end to his duplicity, lies and incompetence – not to mention his crystal-ball gazing 🙂

    • Most people don’t pay any attention to the administration side of IOC sports. Russia has a strong presence in at least cycling and track and field.

      According to the CIRC report, Makarov controls a super-block of votes. Separately, he funds one of the UCI geographical groups, has strong-armed other committee members, and more.

      This is about average for an IOC sport. The prominent IOC sports have major governance issues that are bleeding over into the competition side. It’s been this way for at least a decade. Few people pay attention though.

  6. So the disgusting fraud and thief Brown has re appeared ! He owes me a little money and an apology, so thanks for the heads up. I’ll look him up in the next few weeks as I will be down his way.

    • Get my $100 from this prick while you’re at it BC!! Or at least give him a kick in the groin for me!
      On another note, I’m wondering when promoting a cycling event went from being a way to increase the sales of your newspaper to a profit-center? Somehow I thought the original idea was to put these things on and hope to break even on the whole thing – with all the extra sales of newspapers and increased readership as the goal/benefit. Now the event is a failure unless big profits are realized? I’m not a fan of this “Velon-ization” of the sport, too much interest in money and not enough in sport. Who do these people think they are…FORMULA 1?

      • Without going into too much detail – cycling can’t really be compared to Formula 1 or any other successful pro sport in terms of profits/$$ making opportunities. The scope of the profits in cycling is a fraction of other sports.

        • +1

          If there were only 20 mens’ pro races a year then cycling could be compared to F1, and then also there might be enough money for the organisers to make a solid profit on every race.

          • Not at all, I like having lots of races in different locations where more riders can win. What I’m saying is that fundamentals like this is why cycling should not be compared to F1, it’s just not a helpful comparison.

          • Couldn’t tell if it was sarcasm or not. I agree: there is no comparison between the two sports and why people keep saying that cycling should be more like F1 is beyond me (the NFL one always cracks me up).

      • Larry, costs associated with running a racer such as policing have gone through the roof in some countries e.g France (as INRNG has written about previously). Never mind making money, its proving a struggle to break even. And if other parts of a race-owning organisation isnt being bolstered in material way by a loss-making race, thats not great for the future.

        And as Nick points out in his reply, the newspaper industry (for example) is in retrenchment mode all over the world.

        • Cycling’s always been on the verge of folding financially! Isn’t that one of the reasons fans find it interesting?!? haha

          Cycling teams, federations and UCI spends millions per year on anti-doping, but races, teams, riders and associated businesses often have one foot into bankruptcy. Interesting situation! I have no idea what the solution is!

        • Yet we hear from Velon about all the money ASO has via LeTour and how it should be shared with them. Their contribution will be the vast revenue from on-board camera video and …..? I believe that Velon’s goals really are more in line with F1.

          • Yeah, it’s a weird situation – ASO definitely makes significant $$ from it’s Tour related activities (regardless what the Dauphine financial results show, it’s pretty obvious the Dauphine is not representative of their aggregate financial performance), but what does Velon really have to entice ASO to share their revenue? I can’t believe that the on-board camera’s really produce that much revenue.

            It’ll take nothing less than a threatened work stoppage by the teams and riders to get ASO to give up some revenue.

          • No, Larry – it’s all going bust; everyone’s going bankrupt (one team this year – Colombia, because the Colombian government pulled out, maybe because they won zero races this year); the sport is unsustainable (despite having lasted well over a century); and profit is what matters, not racing; and that profit will appear as if from nowhere; and Velon are the saviours of cycling – the only ones who can see what is needed, because they say so, despite – as you say – offering nothing but the interesting-for-about-two-minutes novelty of on-board videos.

          • Dear Anonymous (whichever one)

            I think that for answers as to where the money poured into Team Colombia by the Colombian govt (or rather, its people) went over several years, dear Claudio Corti has the answers. Problem is that no truth comes out of his mouth.

            One thing’s for sure, it certainly wasnt on making sure his riders got paid their salaries

  7. What was Mondory thinking? That’s all I can say on that…. oh wait, why would he risk EPO?!? In 2015…. Yeah, poor guy, I do hope he gets help, but he must have known he was ending his career when he took it.

    Good job Inrng for outing Timmer Brown

  8. To put the feelings of helplessness into words requires something to flee from. but when people don’t flee they’re forced to find the words.

    Why do cycling leaders wish to profit from locations (organizing races) where blatant gross injustice is ingrained in mad people? Women who can not show their face… People who can not speak… Religious police… Beheadings for speaking against what ever… Dupers and those being duped.

    I do not have answers and I’m afraid to bring up the questions.

    Just want to peddle and escape. Snap a finger and make the worst of the worst peacefully disappear.

    How can free Americans and Europeans begin to even begin to understand extreme ignorance? It takes what We resist.

    I get upset when I read the following story and it’s winter outside (snowing, snow on the ground, high wind and cold) where I live and I can not ride and escape it. I wish I would not have read it but it’s too late.

    When We are not riding perhaps We can find a way to make poof those who have the power to behead those who are thinking, simply thinking and put it to words. Peacefully, without beheading those who are doing the beheading. To insulate Myself for now so I may be free of anger seems selfish.

    If all the good people become Teklehaimanot’s perhaps the beheaders will not have enough energy to murder them all and give up. Expose them and make them hide till they are gone forever.

    Saudi court sentences poet to death for renouncing Islam

  9. I’m assuming most of us here are concerned about dodgy regimes long before they’re involved in corrupting or misappropriating cycle races and cycling related activities. All shades of government will not think twice of using sport as a quasi-jingoistic PR tool.

    I want to watch the sport and do the politics elsewhere but it’s getting harder. We’re all going to end up sounding like Sagan soon.

  10. Related to the accounts for the Critérium du Dauphiné and the relationship between losses and gains of various types, there is one aspect which may not have been mentioned. ASO, has a bundle of races which may not generate profit but do generate political clout and power to yield to gain the upper hand, which it may not have if it were to say sell off or end races which otherwise may appear to have no profit….
    -Maybe this has already been talked about. How does this relate to teams, to race organizers and to Us, the spectator who requires racing to continue (so We don’t get the with-drawl shakes)?

    Maybe this can be a subject for INRNG.


    Race organisers reject UCI WorldTour reforms

    AIOCC wants Grand Tour teams limited to eight riders

    “Under AIOCC rules, each race has a single vote and so thanks to its many races on the international calendar, ASO has an almost majority position which allows it to dominate the strategy and position of the AIOCC.”

    • Hey – good point. I suspect you’re absolutely correct. And even further, I think having races with $nil profits (or close to it) serves two purposes:

      1. It gives ASO a stronger share of the overall racing calendar, and therefore more power in negotiations with teams, other organisers, riders, the UCI, TV, etc.

      2. It eats up a significant portion of overhead costs, thereby making the profitable races more profitable.

      The result is more overall profits for the entire organisation. This is why ASO’s move of posting the Dauphine’s profits was a bit weird, because it’s very likely that this one small (relatively) race is not indicative of their overall financial picture. I’d hazard a guess that most people believe (rightly) that ASO does very well, and is one of the richest cycling entities.

      PS. Don’t forget that ASO also owns a handful of other international sport events, organisations and companies.

  11. Sorry, I didn’t intend posting about the “Race organisers reject UCI WorldTour reforms” as Anonymous.

    Strictly Amateur
    The GCW

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