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Danish Cycling’s Ethical Dilemma

Jörg Krieger has been researching and analyzing an ongoing drama within the Danish Cycling Union and in this guest feature, he examines how a national cycling federation can undermine its integrity through politics and poorly executed controls. According to Krieger, the situation in Denmark is perhaps a symptom of the larger issue of embedding good governance practices and institutional ethics in global sport. The following feature represents the professional observations and opinions of the writer and not The Outer Line. Good governance has become a constantly trending term in the highest echelons of sport organizations over the past two decades. Major corruption and mismanagement scandals within prominent sporting bodies such as the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA), and World Athletics have caused significant public...

How to Prevent Athlete Abuse in Cycling

The recent UCI Ethics Committee decision concerning former Health Mate team manager Patrick Van Gansen has brought renewed scrutiny on the ability of sports governing bodies to prevent and remedy cases of athlete abuse. No one should be surprised that Van Gansen came away with a token sanction for what appeared to be serious abuse charges, because fundamental athlete rights are not built into the Olympic sports model. Likewise, no one should be surprised when this happens again – unless the UCI seizes the opportunity to adopt a ground-breaking stance among Olympic-chartered sports. Unfortunately, the legal paradox of lenient punishment is not unique to cycling. It is instructive to understand how Olympic sport in general has historically walled itself off from objective and external legal scrutiny, and examine how this has exacerbated the conditions which can lead to abuse. Background...

Race Economics — What COVID-19 Has Revealed

During the pandemic of the last year, most major league sports – largely supported by ticket revenues – have predictably suffered major economic losses. In some cases, individual teams have had to take on massive debt to survive. Back when the full effects of the pandemic first began to be felt, we surmised that WorldTour sponsorships could be in jeopardy, but we assumed that major cycling events like the Tour de France would be at least partially insulated from major economic consequences – simply due to the fact that they never had significant ticket revenues, to begin with. In other words, due to its constrained business model, which does not include significant gate or TV revenues, pro cycling would not have as far to fall. However, recent reports have suggested that major cycling events and promoters have in fact struggled economically during COVID, with several key events failing...

The Riders Union Gets Ready for Kick-Off

As an independent, athlete-funded organization, its structure is similar to successful unions in other sports, and it clearly represents a new and improved avenue for the men’s peloton to build a stronger voice. The framework is finally in place, but TRU’s ultimate success will depend on the resolve of the riders. The newly-formed Riders Union (TRU) announced plans to form a new professional bike racers’ representation group in November 2020, and over the ensuing months, there has been a good deal of anticipation and media speculation – as to how it might interact with the UCI and the current CPA organization, its membership strategy, and what it should do to achieve long term success. There were even some speculations from the UCI that the effort was somehow part of a shadowy conspiracy to destabilize the sport. Despite these rumors and uncertainties, TRU is operationally ready. It...

Retrospectives Podcast — Part Two of a Discussion With Phil Liggett

In part 2 of our interview with “the voice of cycling,” Phil Liggett remarks on many of the top cyclists he’s seen during his 48-years of commentating on pro cycling races. Liggett dishes out insightful stories on his personal relationship with Eddy Merckx, whom he considers to be the “greatest ever,” to his unique relationship with Lance Armstrong – reflecting with admiration on how he worked with cancer patients. Liggett also offers his take on other icons like Bernard Hinault, Greg LeMond, Miguel Indurain, Alberto Contador, and Chris Froome, with interesting anecdotes and plaudits. First introduced to American audiences in the 1980s through CBS’s Emmy Award-winning Tour de France coverage, Liggett reflects on his career. Originally intending to be a zoo-keeper, he says he never intended to get into broadcasting. Yet 48 years later, including more than 40 Tours de France, he still...

Part Two of a Look at What Pro Cycling Can Learn From Nascar

It’s hard to think of two sports that have less in common than NASCAR motor racing and professional cycling.  But, as pointed out in a recent article, the way in which individual teams are structured, managed, and financed is quite similar in both sports. NASCAR teams and pro cycling teams are both heavily reliant upon external sponsorship dollars for their success and economic survival. A critical key to economic success and long-term stability in both sports is the ability to identify, develop, and carefully maintain long-term and mutually beneficial sponsor relationships. NASCAR and its teams have developed sophisticated business management systems which can offer some important lessons and insights for cycling. The Outer Line recently teamed up with Breaking Limits – a strategic consulting, communications, and marketing agency heavily engaged in the motorsports industry – to...