USAC and UCI try to Dictate our Lives and Livelihood

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Jimmy Mac, friend and editor of Mountain Bike Action, called me last week and asked me what I thought about the “new” rule Rule 1.2.019 which pretty much states that if you have a UCI license and race a non sanctioned bicycle race, such as Leadville 100, Mount Washington Hill Climb, Chequamengon, Whisky 50, Berryman Epic, etc., you can be fined and/or suspended up to 30 days.

I guess that USAC had asked for clarification of the rule and that after Pat McQuaid, seeming czar of all cycling worldwide, informed USAC of his interpretation of the rule. Then, USAC sent out an email that included Mr. McQuaid’s letter and said that they had no choice but to enforce the UCI directive and stated “Therefore, as a member of the International Federation, USA Cycling will comply with the direction from the UCI.”

First of all I need to state that the rule itself just plain sucks and that USAC are chicken shits and have completely rolled over on this. My view of what the organization, which is called USAC, is supposed to do is to promote and encourage the sport of cycling in the United States. This does exactly the opposite of that.

2nd of all, I doubt that the sanctions are legal. I’m not sure if the rule itself is legal in the United States. It’s like the UCI rule that states that more than 50% of the riders on a Continental Pro team have to be under 27 years old. Someone needs to legally challenge both these rules. Any takers?

This rule has been in place for quite a while. USAC just needs to ignore the enforcement or tell the UCI that it isn’t healthy for the sport here in the US and that they don’t plan on enforcing it. After they do this, they need to come up with a better way to encourage all these unsanctioned events to be join them, no matter how superficially. I know they sent out a plan to try to encourage that, but it needs to be at nearly no cost to the promoter. It doesn’t need to be a win-win situation, it needs to be a we’re giving something for free, win, situation for the unsanctioned races.

These races and many more like it are the back bone of American bike racing, especially on the MTB side. As a athlete, I can’t tolerate an organization that tries to tell me which events I can and can’t participate in. I know they feel like they need to have a monopoly on the sport, but that isn’t how it works here in the US.

I personally, plan to ignore the rule. I’ve been doing Chequamegon, and many other unsanctioned events, nearly forever and don’t plan on stopping because these organizations don’t have the mental capacities to make decisions that would benefit all involved. They’ve, once again, lost focus of what is important in the sport and what isn’t.

Here’s a editorial that JHK wrote for Velonews today that explains the situation better.


21 thoughts on “USAC and UCI try to Dictate our Lives and Livelihood

  1. Sean YD

    The problem with USA Cycling telling UCI it is not going to comply with its rules is that there will be significant consequences. USA Cycling tried to do this before and the UCI basically said that was fine, but no Americans would be 1) competing in the world championships; or 2) the Olympic Games.

  2. s bashakis

    Steve Johnson has become the Kim Jong Un of cycling. But cyclists are not going to be his unarmed conscripts in this battle. Sanctioned races have screened for nothing this past decade. Long live unsanctioned participation driven events.

  3. Jeff

    Sure reminds me of the fight between Steve Prefontaine and the AAU. AAU got too arrogant and made decisions not in atheletes best interest and Steve took them on.

  4. channel_zero

    My view of what the organization, which is called USAC, is supposed to do is to promote and encourage the sport of cycling in the United States.

    You can’t even be bothered to read their mission statement?

    Wiesel’s vision is to spawn more Lance Armstrong’s. One man-crush is good, 4 is better.

    Wiesel’s mission is to grow cycling. “grow cycling” means monetize it at the elite level. Other than a source of money, you are meaningless to USA Cycling.

  5. Bill

    Major pro sports don’t allow their professional athletes to play that sport outside of the league, am I right? For example, you wouldn’t see an active NFL player moonlighting as an XFL player or something like that…

    Professional cyclists are just that, and they make their careers in events sanctioned by USAC. This sport is a business and what counts to USAC is their bottom line.

    On the other hand, revenue from professional cycling is hardly a blip when compared to MLB and so on so perhaps until it is even somewhat close, maybe USAC should focus on getting people out on their bikes and increasing awareness and participation rather than discouraging it.

  6. Jim

    “Professional cyclists are just that, and they make their careers in events sanctioned by USAC.”

    I think that there might be a distinction worth noting here.
    BTW, I am not an attorney but common sense tells me that the events in question might be “sanctioned” by USAC but they are not “promoted” by the USAC.
    To me, that would seem to be a big difference. The USAC has zero dollars invested in the running of the event but they stand to make money for the sanctioning of it?
    How does that do any good for the promoter? He/she is the one with a financial stake here.
    If they would benefit more by being non-sanctioned (assuming all else is equal), why would they bother?

  7. Michael Smith

    I am not sure if this would fall within the parameters of US anti-trust laws and prohibition on monopolies, but it is well worth looking into. The doping era will not destroy cycling, the UCI will.

  8. channel_zero

    They bother because USA Cycling members follow each other around to these events. So, the promoter is assured, to some degree, a bunch of paying customers.

    Secondarily, the promoter works kind of like a Subway franchisee. They put on the event and USAC provides a bunch of stuff promoters find useful for producing races including boring things like officials, event insurance. The promoter keeps some money for their efforts and USA Cycling gets a bunch too.

    When you are starting out, it seems like a good deal because it is. If you have a popular event, it’s not a good deal.

  9. channel_zero

    Until it is challenged in court, it is legal. All IOC sports were granted monopoly status under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Athletics Act.

    What needs to happen is this needs to go to court. Where will the money come from for that?

  10. Some guy

    lots MLB players play in winter leagues all over the place. They are just not your stars, usually the pinch hitters and lower level relief pitchers. They usually do so at the incouragement of there teams so there players get better.

    A huge problem I see is neither usac or the uci is paying the riders but a third party sponsor. The MLB and nfl are completely different business models. Sponsors in Mtb want there riders interacting with other racers and fans which are at the whiskey 50, chequmegon, enduance races and the enduro scene which is exploding. I think this will make non-endemic sponsors even more difficult to attract.

  11. Bill K

    USAC can go screw themselves.
    Bunch of money grubbing bastids, who are mostly funded by Cat 3’s, 4’s, and Masters.

  12. H Luce

    I’d look at sections (a)(4)(B) and (a)(5)(C) of 36 USC § 220522 – Eligibility requirements

    “(a) General.— An amateur sports organization is eligible to be recognized, or to continue to be recognized, as a national governing body only if it—

    (1) is incorporated under the laws of a State of the United States or the District of Columbia as a not-for-profit corporation having as its purpose the advancement of amateur athletic competition;

    (2) has the managerial and financial capability to plan and execute its obligations;

    (3) submits—
    (A) an application, in the form required by the corporation, for recognition as a national governing body;
    (B) a copy of its corporate charter and bylaws; and
    (C) any additional information considered necessary or appropriate by the corporation;

    (4) agrees to submit to binding arbitration in any controversy involving—
    (A) its recognition as a national governing body, as provided for in section 220529 of this title, upon demand of the corporation; and
    (B) the opportunity of any amateur athlete, coach, trainer, manager, administrator or official to participate in amateur athletic competition, upon demand of the corporation or any aggrieved amateur athlete, coach, trainer, manager, administrator or official, conducted in accordance with the Commercial Rules of the American Arbitration Association, as modified and provided for in the corporation’s constitution and bylaws, except that if the Athletes’ Advisory Council and National Governing Bodies’ Council do not concur on any modifications to such Rules, and if the corporation’s executive committee is not able to facilitate such concurrence, the Commercial Rules of Arbitration shall apply unless at least two-thirds of the corporation’s board of directors approves modifications to such Rules;

    (5) demonstrates that it is autonomous in the governance of its sport, in that it—
    (A) independently decides and controls all matters central to governance;
    (B) does not delegate decision-making and control of matters central to governance; and
    (C) is free from outside restraint;”

    It looks like the prescribed remedy here is binding arbitration, not an anti-trust lawsuit; futhermore, “any aggrieved amateur athlete, coach, trainer, manager, administrator or official” can bring a demand for such arbitration in accordance with the statute above, subsection (a)(4)(B).

    It might also be possible to make the claim that UCI’s ruling constitutes “outside restraint” under subsection (a)(5))C) and to have USA Cycling’s authority revoked … that of course would be a lawsuit in Federal court against USA Cycling, and it could well be the case that “any aggrieved amateur athlete, coach, trainer, manager, administrator or official” would have standing to act in this matter.

  13. John

    One of the big losers could be high school mtb racing.
    NICA operates outside USA cycling- so any junior that does a high school race could be suspended,
    Big issue since some of the best kids are the same ones that USA cycling uses for international races.

  14. Dave Moulton

    This is exactly why McQuaid stays in office, the National Federations will not stand up to him. Why, because National Federations are run by Mini-McQuaids who are in it for their own glory, not for the good of the sport.

  15. Larry Byvik

    It seems to me that this rule has existed for quite some time. Now that the LA dynasty is no longer such and the UCI is no longer profiting from his celebrity, nor succumbing to his bullying, they choose to enforce this long standing rule? Hmmmmm???

    Is it just me? Have I become so cynical?

    I got my first USCF license in 1983. I got my last USAC license in 2012. No more.

  16. Ted L

    I agree. If USAC suspends everyone around here that does an unsanctioned endurance event like Chequamagon, Dakota 50, or some other NUE series or gravel event we won’t have anyone eligible to show up to USAC sanctioned events. If I get suspended for doing one of these unsanctioned events, it will the last time I buy a USAC license until such a time as the USAC can get their house in order. It will be interesting to see how selectively or widespread they choose to enforce this rule.

  17. Rich

    Many of us like the idea of lining up at these unsanctioned races with the pro’s. I think that USA cycling is hurting what we the cycling fan / participant want. They do not seem to know how to attract the numbers to their own events so they try to pull a power play.


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