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UCI Scorecard: Are the CIRC Recommendations Being Implemented?

Brian Cookson took over the UCI Presidency in late 2013, heralding a new direction in pro cycling, and proposing sweeping changes in the way that the sport was managed and overseen. It was widely hoped that his election would signal the beginning of a new and cleaner era in pro cycling.  One of the key initiatives in Cookson’s early agenda was to create the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) – a panel of independent experts to look at the history of cycling, and to make recommendations for cleaning up and better managing the sport in the future.  The Commission was funded to the tune of €3 million, was led by three independent experts and was supported by a small internal staff.  It spent a year assessing the current situation in pro cycling.  It interviewed some 174 individuals, including past and present riders, team managers, doctors, scientists, owners, sponsors, event...

Breaking Away – From the Tour de France

The 2016 professional cycling calendar is barely underway, but controversy has already reared its ugly head. The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), owner of the Tour de France, has reignited its historical battle with cycling’s governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), and threatens to plunge the sport into disarray again. ASO is upset over a relatively minor but widely-agreed licensing reform which would allow a measure of greater economic stability for the teams. The privately-owned firm has often acted against the interests of the greater sport, at times seeming to undermine the basis of its own business model – cutting off its nose to spite its face. The core challenge for pro cycling is obvious. The Tour de France is the one “super-marquee” competition of the sport – the only event in the sport where teams and sponsors can really profit.  Don’t participate in the Tour,...

ASO’s Game of Monopoly

The recent move by the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) to reject proposed UCI changes and pull its races out of the WorldTour has left people wondering what it all means. ASO says that its move will preserve an open and more competitive atmosphere in the sport. But closer analysis shows that if ASO follows through on this threat, it will inflict severe economic pressure on the teams, strengthen their own competitive advantage over other race organizers, and marginalize the economic and career aspirations of the riders – even forcing many out of the sport. From the short list of rather marginal changes that comprise UCI’s so-called reforms, ASO is primarily unhappy about the proposed extension of WorldTour team licenses from one year to three years. This is a critical point for the teams, because WorldTour license holders receive an automatic invitation to the Tour de France – the...

Changing Pro Cycling: The Perspective of Hein Verbruggen

Editors’ Note:  Hein Verbruggen ran professional cycling for most of the past thirty years – first, as President of the predecessor FICP starting in the mid-1980s, then as President of the UCI from 1991 through 2005, and he has been Honorary President right up to the present.  Verbruggen ruled the sport with what many viewed as an iron fist, and he was often a lightning rod for controversy.  However, the fact is that he oversaw pro cycling during a long period of increasing visibility and international growth.  And despite the accusations of his detractors, no one has had more international executive experience in cycling. Verbruggen recently initiated a dialogue with  the Outer Line  to express his opinions regarding our 2013 “Roadmap to Repair Pro Cycling” report, and then agreed to a detailed discussion and interview.  Our interest in talking with Verbruggen was not to revisit the...

Nineteen Eighty-Three

Brian Cookson, president of the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), has stated that its newly-minted Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) will look approximately fifteen years back in time, as it attempts to understand and address cycling’s modern doping dilemma.  This time frame neatly coincides with the low points of the Lance Armstrong era, but the root causes go much deeper than one man.  Fifteen years may help the UCI to pinpoint and investigate the sinister activities and possible collusion that occurred in cycling’s darkest days, but the CIRC must review about thirty years of history to truly understand and fix the corruption that has poisoned the sport, and to bring about lasting reform. The strange, totalitarian world envisioned by George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four  might seem like pure fiction, but cycling embarked upon its own “Cold War” and dystopian journey in...