UCI Financial Report and Accounts

The annual look at the UCI’s finances, a chance to follow the money behind the governing body. You can download the full report from the UCI website or scan the summary below. The UCI published the report in July but amid a thrilling Tour de France it wasn’t required reading. It’s not fascinating today either but as ever its worth checking in on the sport’s administration and more.

As a reminder the UCI is cycling’s governing body and it has eight primary activities: road, track, mountain, BMX, para-cycling, cyclo-cross, indoor (cycle polo, gymnastics) and trials… the last one being the test of balance rather than the court room. The UCI sets the rules for the sport but “governing body” implies a degree of authority it doesn’t always possess, especially in men’s road cycling where it often arbitrates between competing interests. All the numbers here are in Swiss Francs (CHF) because the governing body is based in Aigle, Switzerland – inside a small building tucked behind a retail park – and the exchange rate is mentioned below but for shorthand you can equate one franc to one US dollar.

The headline figure for 2018 is a net loss of six million francs, a rare event for the UCI and explained by three factors: new President David Lappartient’s election pledge to spend on the development of cycling around the world, an accounting change for the money from the Olympic Games every four years and some investment losses on the UCI’s reserves. This “triple whammy”, the term used in the UCI’s report, helped deliver a loss of CHF 7.3 million for 2018 and gobbled up over five million from the UCI’s balance sheet.

The UCI is a non-profit sports body and so gets tax perks in Switzerland for this, the idea is it should aim to balance its books each year and any surplus it makes goes into its reserves (as opposed to being paid out, say, in dividends) and in the event of a loss the reserves can be drawn on.

The charts here show where the UCI’s money comes from in terms of type, sector and discipline for 2018. The notes explain “Hosting fees were almost flat year-on-year but we expect to see a fall in 2019 due to reduced fees for the UCI Road and Track Cycling World Championships” which reads as if both Yorkshire and Pruszków are not paying as much as usual but this is not clear, later notes mention the Bergen worlds financial fiasco is still ongoing with bankruptcy proceedings continuing for the organisation committee and the Norwegian federation is still partially liable for the CHF 1.1 million debt and the matter is unresolved. Now the UCI have signed up several cities recently to host future editions of the worlds (2020: Aigle and Martigny in Switzerland, 2021 in Flanders, 2022 in Wollongong, Australia and Glasgow, Scotland for the multidisciplinary 2023 Worlds) but the rates are unknown. As ever road cycling is a big deal for the UCI but in 2018 it accounted for 50% of the UCI’s revenue when it’s often much higher.

In the statement above you can see the revenue for the UCI for 2018, the big change is the money from the “Olympic movement”. The Olympics pay out money to the relevant sports governing bodies and until 2018 the UCI would divide up the lump sum it got from the IOC by four and drip this across the four years between each of the Olympic games. Now the accounting policy has changed and the money is booked once rather than smoothed across the four year cycle. Fundamentally it doesn’t change much but just helps explain some of the changes for 2018. As you can see “hosting fees” are the UCI’s biggest single earner where the governing body charges venues for the rights to hold the worlds and other events like World Cups and so on and the road worlds make up most of this.

UCI World Tour

There are separate accounts for the World Tour which are jointly managed by the Professional Cycling Council, a committee. As you can see the teams and races contribute roughly similar amounts in fees, the CHF 1.8 million revenue from teams works out at about CHF 100,000 per team and in return the UCI supplies commissaires, audits team budgets to help ensure squads are viable and wages get paid. The increase in technical spending is linked to the UCI’s video commissaire with a dedicated truck that allows the UCI to review video evidence. Overall it’s not a money-spinner for the UCI. Update: as alert readers have pointed out the World Tour accounts look to have an error as the operating expenses for 2017 don’t add up.

  • We’ve had the Women’s World Tour but this has been a label with the women’s sport working off a copy-paste of the men’s pro-am UCI Continental rulebook. This is all changing now with the advent of a genuine World Tour for women complete with regulatory standards like a minimum wage, TV coverage guarantees and more so it’ll be interesting to see if this is accompanied by a similar reserve fund.
  • Anti-doping spend is CHF 8 million a year, up from CHF 6 million in 2017, perhaps Chris Froome’s Salbutamol case was a factor
  • 10 Therapeutic Use Exemptions were issued in 2018 compared to 20 the previous year
  • UCI Staff costs were CHF 12.9 million, roughly the same as the previous year for a headcount of 119 people of which 108 are full time employees
  • The expenditure on developing world cycling includes opening up satellite “World Cycling Centres”, based on the model of the one in the UCI HQ which takes riders from around the world and helps them race in Europe, it can be on the road, track, BMX and more. 127 athletes joined the HQ centre in 2018
  • There are now more than 2,000 races registered on the UCI’s international calendar, a record. It is a story of growth but also some unofficial races have been signed up to the UCI’s calendar in recent years, think the post-Tour exhibition criteriums which are technically on the UCI calendar
  • There are now over 250 UCI registered teams, a record too and the biggest growth has been the rise in women’s teams which almost reach 50 teams

Overall the UCI’s finances look healthy and the governing body keeps on with its central role. Glance and there’s a big fall in 2018 but this is partly explained by a dull change in accounting policy. The increased expenditure on development sounds good but needs to be watched to make sure spending doesn’t correlate with the electoral needs of the President. As ever the UCI is very dependent on the Olympics and Worlds, far more so than the road cycling scene where the World Tour and some particular races might get all the headlines but the UCI is not directly reliant on them.

Exchange rate on 31 December 2018: CHF 1 = € 0.89 = US$ = 1.02 = GB£0.80 = AU$ = 1.43

44 thoughts on “UCI Financial Report and Accounts”

  1. After all my money related posting in the last thread I made sure to read every word of this.

    Thank you INRNG.

    I have no idea how you have the attentiveness to write up articles on UCI finances and even team finances… it is appreciated. I keep wondering who you are if this is just a sideline! The attention to detail on the breath of the posting is incredible.

  2. “UCI Staff costs were CHF 12.9 million, roughly the same as the previous year for a headcount of 119 people of which 108 are full time employees.”

    Over 100k average per employee. I’m sure they’re not all earning equally, but still not bad at all.

    • It sounds nice, you work in the sport, have the Alps on your doorstep, the vineyards, the Rhone valley… back to the stats and there’s a note on the average wage too that says the equivalent of one or two staff changes can make the number change. The President’s salary is in there but also worth remembering that wages in Switzerland are high / the currency is hard, for example a supermarket checkout worker can be paid CHF 40k a year, $40k/€36k etc.

      • Also worth bearing in mind that the cost of employing someone can easily be 1.5 times the headline salary figure, once you throw in pension contributions, health benefits, taxes, costs of leave, sundry benefits, etc., etc.

  3. …i know the figure has plummeted over the past 10 years. But the allegations made in the British press over the past couple of years could’ve easily been rubbished if someone official actually spoke out.

  4. This type of posts are the ones I skip over even though I’m sure they are great for the genre. Just as I don’t watch highly aclaimed movies because the story doesn’t interest me.

    I feel like this is a waste of your talents, that you could spend the same time covering a story. Like you do with the roads to ride. Maybe a series on cyclists life story. Or interviews. Yeah, do interviews. I bet they’ll be at least different than anything else, but probably great.

    Sorry to be straightforward, I don’t mean to offend. You probably know from site Analytics how popular this topic is.

    • Interviews could be fun because they’d have to be different to be fun but it’s rare here. Also I don’t look at blog readership numbers. On this subject I’d deleted the script that counts readership until someone was interested in advertising recently and I realised I had no idea how many were reading so put it back in late June… but haven’t logged in to check since. I suspect the UCI accounts will be a total turn off for most readers but as it’s a blog I can do as I please and feel it’s important to cover the way the sport is run and explore the incentives behind the governance etc. This is only a skim of the UCI accounts but readers can read them in full via the link and we can go through issues in the comments etc

      • PLEASE, please, please continue doing as-you-please! This is (I think) the last place (in English anyway) one can find interesting race coverage and stories not chock-full of product placement and not-so-thinly-disguised advertising BS. I have no issue with advertising placed on the side of the screen (though everyone knows banner-type ads are worthless) or a request to support a sponsor (like Prendas) but please don’t follow the model of sites like the one with TIPS in the name!!! Sadly, they went from interesting to unabashed shill for mindless consumption in what seems a blink of an eye…. not only do they subject readers to ads AND make them wade through endless “advertorial” to find the interesting nuggets, they also ask you to pay for the privilege by ponying up for “membership”! They want to have their cake and to eat it – with cream frosting!
        I’ve posted many times before I’d happily throw some dough in to support INNER RING via an online donation scheme, but only for the kind of journalism (and civil comments section) you offer now.

      • This is a great once a year post. If nothing else it dispels some myths.
        1000s of TUE’s. Seriously 10 across all these sports. That’s like nothing I can hardly believe it.
        The UCI gets rich of the world tour. The team and organiser fee’s seem ludicrously low. Particularly the organiser fees as there are so many races on the world tour now. If you divvy that amount up 100k or 200k per race. I always assumed the local TDU was paying a lot more than that.

        • Despite the race sanctioning fees being so low, most races run a loss which has to be underwritten by someone (in the case of the TDU, the South Australian Government) or the event goes bust.

          I presume that event fees are so low because they only cover the UCI sanctioning fee and race organisers have to pay for all the operational costs themselves. Other sports like Formula 1 generally operate on charging a much larger fee which includes everything other than the provision of the venue.

          • F1 has a very strong TV deal and R&D/sponsorship dollars far outweigh cycling revenue models. This is a comparison of tiny tomatoes to monster pumpkins

          • It seems as though you are straining to miss the point. I’m talking about organisational models, not revenue models.

            Cycling race organiser pays a small fee to the UCI for the race sanctioning and also has to pay for transport, accomodation etc on top of that. The UCI doesn’t do any substantial work to make the race happen.

            F1 race organiser pays an all-inclusive fee (in the tens of millions of dollars) to FOM, FOM takes care of pretty well everything.

            The cycling model works well when there are good race organisers (e.g. TDU who have long term sponsors providing reliable flights, accomodation and vehicles) but works badly when lazy race organisers cut corners. As a result, cycling is a very unprofessional sport in that the quality of events is extremely variable.

          • DaveRides – I was trying to keep my answer brief, but I think your reply proves my overall point. In your analysis, lazy race organisers have poor organisational models because they don’t have good revenue.

          • I disagree.

            Doing it well is about *choosing* to do it well. If that choice is made, you can run a great race using almost all volunteers.

            Lazy race organisers aren’t going to turn into good race organisers just by giving them more money, they need to choose to lift their game. Alternatively, the UCI could choose to follow the organisational model of other events and take over more functions at sub-standard races.

        • If I’m a cyclist who wants a TUE, do I have to get it from the UCI, or can I ask my national body instead? If the latter, then the figure of 10 understates the real number, doesn’t it?

          • If you’re an international level rider, you go to the UCI.

            If you’re only competing at domestic level, you go to the national anti-doping body.

            If you’re a domestic rider who has a current TUE when you get selected to compete in an international event or get reclassified as an international level rider, you need to re-apply to the UCI.

          • If you’re in the “registered testing pool” then you must ask the UCI, this involves all the World Tour, Pro Conti riders plus some Conti riders, U23s on national teams as well as other disciplines too.

      • Ok, I get it. You actually like to deep dive into this subject for your own curiosity and don’t necessarily do it for your readers. I can respect that. I’m grateful for what I get and can skip the very few articles I don’t consider interesting.

    • As another reader has suggested I think, although dry, this sort of article offers the visitors to this site a wider and deeper understanding of the sport you wouldn’t get elsewhere. So I value this article even if it’s not ‘commercial’ in content.

      Most individuals (myself included) probably have a slightly childlike perception of sporting governing bodies: they don’t know where the money comes from, they expect seemless governance, believe them to wield powers like a God, and believe the pockets of the organisation to be deep and plentiful. The reality is somewhat wide of the mark, and explains limitations on the doping controls and legal strength they have at their command.

      I imagine that Inrng would do interesting and insiteful interviews (especially if they were with the legends of cycling). But it would compromise his anonymity too.

      • Good point on anonymity. But interview can be otherwise that face to face. And I presume there are quite a few pros that know about this blog and will understand the reason of a over the phone or written interview.

        • Thanks for the great article mix – I love all the topics you cover, including these on the sport’s background (I’m an accountant and love a deep dive into a pile of numbers and financially driven reports – nerd-alert).

          Also, the forum discussion keeps me coming back as Inrng lets an article simmer for a few days and the commentary goes back and forth.

    • -1

      Strongly disagree with this – these sorts of articles may be dry, but they give more depth and colour to my understanding of the sport. Which I think is great, and is something you don’t really get elsewhere.

      Which is not to say that I don’t think our host would do a great job of the article types you have suggested…

      Please do keep doing what you are doing.

  5. Please continue to write articles like this in amongst the race coverage and politics. When you understand the money flows, so many other things make more sense. I’m also grateful that you read and summarised the report, as there is no way I would ever have read through it. This is real and important journalism.
    Like others above, I was surprised (and encouraged) to read that there were only 10 TUE’s issued in 2018. Are the figures for previous years available? It would be very interesting to see what the curve since about 2004 looks like.

    • Yes, the annual report show recent numbers but here’s the full table for the past decade:
      Year TUEs granted
      2009 239
      2010 97
      2011 55
      2012 46
      2013 31
      2014 25
      2015 13
      2016 15 
      2017 20
      2018 10

      You can spot the trend, even if the jump between between 2009 and 2010 was due to a regulatory change over salbutamol, it needed a TUE for 2009 but after it was accepted upto a certain dosage (a subject we revisited in the Froome case).

      • Wow that is a massive change, perhaps worth exploring if and when you feel able. Accepting the salbutamol issue and resulting drop, a reduction from 97 to 10 in 10 years suggests an enormous change in TuE acceptance. Is this moral or medical? How are the underlying issues being dealt with, presuming they still exist or persist.

        • Perhaps it is something just to do with salbutamol if we assume the numbers using it are as high as reported. I bet cortisone may be in that as well I get the impression it is not as accepted as it once was.
          I did watch something about asthma recently on endurance athletes (not just cycling). It may have been GCN. The doctor interviewed did not seem concerned about the high asthma occurrence of endurance athletes and expected it to be high due to the nature of endurance sports and training.

          • It’s regulatory as well. In the past a TUE could be issued after a team doctor called the UCI to ask for one and could get a verbal approval in response. Not that all TUEs were issued this way, just that it could happen this way. Now the UCI has adopted the recommended formal method of a panel of medics who must approve requests, this has placed the hurdle higher and means riders/doctors may now opt to sit out a race rather when in the past they would have got a TUE by fax. (More on this in http://inrng.com/2018/03/tue-reform-cortisol-tests/)

          • As noted TUE was no longer needed for salbutamol. They could reduce TUE’s to zero by allowing the use of plenty of substances that currently require them – but just like the salbutamol decision, would that be progress or caving-in to high-priced lawyers and medical “experts”? Let’s not forget if you are Chris Froome not only do you no longer need TUE for salbutamol but it seems your anti-doping test samples can exceed the stated limits as well. Will anyone ever again be sanctioned over the use of this PED?

        • As noted by INRNG, there was a regulatory change to the TUE process a few years ago which also had the benefit of making Dr.Zorzoli redundant.

          This change and the sacking of Zorzoli were both implemented by that notorious crook of a UCI President, Brian Cookson. The one who was in Sky’s pocket. The Brit who was bent in favour of Chris Froome.

      • While we’re on it, are testing authorities still standing by their salbutamol testing procedure? Is it good scientific procedure to carry on as normal when a technique has been disowned by its own creator? A refusal to reassess seems political, not scientific… and shouting about how poor funding is every time something goes wrong is misdirection: if they can’t afford to do a test that can withstand peer scrutiny then they shouldn’t do the test at all.

        • You are wasting your time trying to bring logic into a discussion on salbutamol. Larry T and all the other prejudiced bigots know that this is all a con and that the doper with the most money and the highest-paid lawyers and the paid-for “experts” will always win, especially if that doper is Chris Froome and the team is Sky/Ineos. Only deluded fanboys who aren’t true cycling fans can’t see that.

        • I don’t see how they can.
          The entire process that allows you to inhale a certain amount but we are going to measure it in another way is dumb. They either have to ban it completely, allow unrestricted use or change the requirements to below a certain threshold (but as its been completely shown that amounts in blood are so variable it has to be so high that you may as well allow unrestricted). For most drugs its a simple you have any we can detect with confidence its a positive is easy to administer. The current regulation is a joke. Its not just about CAS apparently being bribed by big time lawyers. Its a dumb regulation as written.
          Its as if a speed limit for a car was measured with a rader but the driver only has the amount of foot depression on the accelerator to gauge by.

  6. Hi, just wanted to add a quick note to say that I too appreciate this yearly summary and other posts looking at team accounts, how the sport is run etc. It adds to the breadth of the coverage on here. Not everyone will be interested in every post and that’s totally fine but I enjoy my morning coffee, opening up the site to see what is being covered. It’s the variety and quality that keeps me coming back. Also I found it really heartening to hear that you do look at the site metrics. It’s your blog and you write what you want. The moment you start writing for others or other interests will be the moment the appeal will drop I suspect. Keep doing what you want.

  7. Keep up the good work, this is a go to site for no nonsense quality reporting. Race coverage is why I came, UCI/team finances, roads to ride, book reviews and the less “commercial” content is why I keep coming back.

  8. I am surprised to see the diminishing of revenue through track cycling as I am the growth from mountain biking. I always thought track provided a greater purse than it did. Is this a sign that it’s popularity is waning somewhat? I know the change is small but has this been a decreasing revenue stream for some time or a new change?

    A great post by the way!

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