Unibet Cashes In Their Chips

by Rant on August 19, 2007 · 21 comments

in Floyd Landis, Tour de France, UCI ProTour

You may have already heard by now that Unibet.com, sponsor of one of the UCI’s ProTour teams, has decided to cash in their chips and go home. At the end of the season, they will stop sponsoring the beleaguered team and walk away from professional cycling — at least for the time being. Score one for the Grand Tour organizers.

So ends this skirmish in the ongoing battle between the UCI and the sponsors of the three Grand Tours for control over the direction of professional cycling’s future. With all the fighting between the two groups, one may yet emerge the victor while the sport they’re fighting over dies. Or morphs into something radically different than it is today.

The Unibet.com cycling team, despite being a ProTour team, has been excluded by event organizers RCS, ASO and Unipublic from the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, the Vuelta a Espana and from a number races the three organizations own. In France, the team was banned from racing, due to an old law that forbids the advertising of any gambling concerns not licensed by the government. Francaise de Jeux, the French national lottery, sponsors a team and can race anywhere on the continent.

But the ASO used the law banning gambling advertising to exclude Unibet from any of the races they own, even when the team offered to ride in outfits where the Unibet.com logos were replaced by question marks.

The kinds of power struggles that forced the Unibet team to call it a day threaten the future of cycling. This is a story of a struggle for power and money. The power to control who races in which races, and the money from television broadcast rights, among other revenue streams.

The idea behind the ProTour, to create a season long series of races that might draw further interest to cycling, and build excitement around various riders and teams as they compete for overall titles may well be a good one. But the way it was executed from the start has doomed it to the kind of internecine warfare that currently exists between the UCI and the race organizers.

It didn’t have to be this way. The UCI, with some thoughtful planning and organizing, could have brought the three big promoters into the fold early on. Made them a partner in planning the whole series. In short, they should have given the promoters a reason to sign on, rather than trying to wrest control over their races and take away earnings from broadcast rights and sponsorship. The way this whole saga has played out shows the true colors of both sides, and it’s not a pretty picture, any way you paint it.

For the sake of the sport, the UCI and the race organizers need to find a way to bring this fighting to an end. Here’s a thought: Scrap the ProTour in its present form and start over. Only this time, have everyone in the room — the UCI, team owners and race promoters — working together to ensure the success of whatever replaces it. It can be done. If everyone involved has the will to make it happen.

Hoist A Glass To Floyd

In a comment over at TBV, Peter suggests that a moment in time be set aside to hoist a glass or mug of your favorite beverage in honor of Floyd Landis, without whom many of us would not be writing, discussing or contemplating the sad state of affairs that is our current anti-doping system. As Peter notes:

It is a little something we could do for Floyd, after getting a small glimpse of the misery he is enduring, which we all read in [T]he Outcast article. Any thoughts?

Well, count me in. Of course, I don’t really need an excuse. I’ll raise a glass of beer, or stout, or ale, or whisky in Floyd’s honor any day. Right now, though, it’ll be a mug of Peets — just as soon as the water’s boiled.

Post to Twitter

Morgan Hunter August 19, 2007 at 9:13 am

Rant I want to start with – “Hoist A Glass To Floyd” – I think symbolically the idea is brilliant, am for it 100%…

But what if all of us – actually put our mouth where the money is.

How about we send an envelope, with something we can afford – this isn’t to the FFF, but to Floyd and his Family?

Seems a little bit more to the point if you ask me.

That is if we are interested in letting Floyd know AND his Mrs and their daughter – that we have not forgotten and we shall stick with them for the long haul…

And by the way – for those of you who think we open ourselves and Floyd to being labeled “suckers” and con artists…I ain’t saying a word to no one – are you?

This is “us” telling Floyd – no matter what – he is our Tour winner – and that we honor him.

I’ll respond to the Unibet situation after I read some reactions. (°L°)

cam August 19, 2007 at 11:22 am

which Peet’s do you drink, Rant? (checking to see if you’re copasetic with Floyd)

Rant August 19, 2007 at 11:31 am

Morgan,

Whether we hoist a glass or post a check, they’re both good ways to show our support for Floyd and his family. I don’t know their mailing address, however.

Cam,

My favorites are: Major Dickason’s Blend, French Roast, Panama and Peet’s Special Blend. Unfortunately, I have to be careful of the caffeine intake, so most of the time it’s Decaf Special Blend or Decaf French Roast.

– Rant

Morgan Hunter August 19, 2007 at 11:58 am

I don’t know it either and I wouldn’t say if I did – but I don’t imagine it would be hard to find out – contact the lawyer? Or the people who are close to him?
Now I want to respond to the Unibet “Gambit” – sorry…(°L°)

I ask myself just how much money Francaise de Jeux, the organization not the team, “kicks back” — sorry —- pays as fee to the ASO – for being a prominent legitimate team in the Tour”¦?

If we take some figures from lotteries that run in a state in America with the same population as France — we should come to a fair guess at what numbers we are actually talking about, anybody good at such a thing, out there?

In case you’re thinking I’m just blowing hot air — let me tell you an interesting “tid-bit”. Eurosport, here in Austria is able to broadcast the Tour because of the sponsorship of a “on-line” betting company that runs adds when ever there is a break in the telecast or when station identification occurs.

Somehow — I found it very ironic, especially when the Unibet boys donned their “joker” shirts to race — that such a complete shut out was occurring”¦makes you sort of wonder, don’t it?

Back in September of 2004, Jeremy Whittle, who writes for the Timers on line, reported that “THE international cycling union’s plans for a revised structure to the European season in 2005 appear to be in disarray after the promoters of the Tours of France, Italy and Spain flatly rejected the UCI’s new Pro Tour, scheduled to be introduced in January.”

Mr Whittle further reports that – Victor Cordero speaking on behalf of the pan-European trio of race promoters –” We have sent a letter to the UCI to say that we will not associate ourselves with the Pro Tour,” – The REASON GIVEN WAS — “”¦the leading race promoters, embattled by recent doping scandals, had received no satisfactory response to their legitimate concerns over ethical issues.” — Has ANY ONE OUT THERE heard anything about said “ethical” issues? What exactly are they?

Now in the same article, Mr Whittle report as to what the UCI’s response was: “Hein Verbruggen, the president, of the UCI at the time, stated that “the Pro Tour will go ahead either with or without the Tour de France”. — The man must be a “born diplomat”. It is also reported “the UCI’s management committee has unanimously confirmed that the Pro Tour perfectly reflects the future direction of professional cycling and that these potential desertions will not put in any danger the implementation of the Pro Tour on January 1, 2005”. Basically saying to the big three — YOU GOT NO SAY SO what so ever. You do what we tell you or we break you.

So I ask myself — How much was Unibet.com “kicking-back” — sorry — paying as member ship fees to the UCI to be racing the Pro Circuit? Anybody have any numbers on that? Just wondering, since Floyd and maybe a lot of other racers have been used up to have this “not so public” public debacle. (°L°)???????

And — will somebody PLEASE explain — what exactly is the “new direction” that the UCI and the “reluctant” Big Three is planning to take Pro Cycling”¦and dear people — I don’t believe for one minute we’re talking about “broadcasting rights” “¦ (°L°)

William Schart August 19, 2007 at 6:22 pm

Morgan:

NOt sure if this is the “new direction” but maybe (copied from Wikipedia UCI Protour article):

In replacing the World Cup, the ProTour was designed to follow the format of the Formula One motor-racing series, and was intended to address several concerns:

The Grand Tours were not part of the UCI Road World Cup series

Different riders and different teams targeted different types of races, making direct comparisons during competition difficult

Team sponsorships tended to last only a very few years

Many teams had financial difficulty in paying their riders and staff members

Several teams had been plagued by doping issues

Nothing too earth shaking here.

Morgan Hunter August 19, 2007 at 8:22 pm

Thank you William for your response – may I present you with another scenario?
Can’t say I have the same view of this situation as you do Rant”¦in one way — I really sincerely wish that I did, but I don’t. (°L°)

You see, if for just one moment, we look upon the Big Three — not as the romanticized public images that are spun at us daily if not hourly — we can catch a glimpse of what the “business of the” Grand Tours has actually turned into being. Does the term “cash cow” mean anything to you?

Forget for a moment that the Grand Tours are sports races of the highest caliber, that they are “there to test” the human being, to give the racer the opportunity to “jump” beyond the normal human condition and produce for some few short minutes or for six hours, a superior man. An athlete, who “convinces us” right before our own eyes that he or she is better then all the best in the world! Forget about all that — that is the “party-line”, it is what every racer knows to mouth before the microphone or the camera lens, or before a room full of slobbering reporters.

Ask yourself — not as a cycling fan, but as a betting man, what it would mean if you were the one who owned such a race? The possibilities are endless. Why — if your “show” was popular with the “public”, you could even take it ALL over the place. It wouldn’t have to be having a “fixed” venue — your audience is used to seeing their “favorites” on the road. And every year, as the popularity of your event grew — why, whole towns, cities, states and countries would “pay” to have you come through them”¦any of this seems familiar?

Now, think of horse racing. Think of “purses” for the “winners” — the last time I looked — there were very few horses who were winners that seemed to care much for the money — the best they could hope for is to be put out to stud, a nice green pasture, good hay and alfalfa, a willing mare or a willing stud, what more can a good racehorse expect? So the winners are not really the horses, are they”¦.No — there are only two winners really.

The owners — who run their horses and the tracks and bookmakers that let the general public bet on which horse is going to win. If you think that “stables” invest big money in breeding their best horses for “just the love of the sport of kings” — you better think a bit more. As to the tracks and the bookmakers, they supply a public service”¦don’t they? And they do all of this because, they also just love the sport of kings, and heck it’s just so dang much fun”¦yeah”¦EVERY BODY is just in it for the love of the sport.

The horses, maybe — horses love to run”¦just watch them in the wild. They do it for pleasure and they do it to survive. The horses, I give them the benefit of the doubt.

You know — bike racers love to go fast too. You feel that fine machine accelerating under you and it is the closest thing to flying without actually flying. Some bike racers love riding up really steep hills, because they can. Others can ride fast on flats or in time trials; others still have more power reserves then the other horses”¦sorry – cyclist so they can do it longer. Then you got some special types with “fast twitch muscles” and these guys accelerate like Ferraris. If you ask any one of them in a quiet moment — they’ll tell you — ” I Feel the need for speed” — if you ride a bike, you know what I’m talking about. That magic sound of good Vittoria’s sticking to the pavement as you apply the power, I get a rush just remembering it.

So you set up races, you do it well and one day you wind up with — the Tour, the Giro and the Vaulta. Along the way — people on the sidelines figure out there is some money to be made. So you get “owners” who hire the racers, plaster advertising all over their jerseys for which a “sponsor” pays big money. Riders become “celebrities” to the fans and therefore can demand more money for their riding. The promoters make out like bandits because they provide the venue and of course, wherever they turn up — the towns, villages, cities, states and countries are “grateful”.

Then you get some people who run the biggest athletic circus in the world who think they have figured out how to muscle in and take over. After all, their public image is all about something called the purity of sport. Every four years, they hold the “cleanest sports spectacle” in the whole world, they have a right to “take over” — after all — they are the only people you and I, the fans can trust — to run a clean event, a fair event, isn’t that so? Look at all the rules and testing that they have established to prove the clarity and honesty of their events people”¦(°L°).

Every body else has got to be crooked — and they proved it with their “tests” — right before your eyes, people”¦or have they?

So Rant — I am sorry, but this was the only way they can do it — yes — we are talking about a lot of money — we wrap it up in talk of “honor” of “clean riders” and “dirty-dopers” and “moving forward” to a “fairer more transparent sport” — of “shocked betrayed sponsors” — of little villains who are behind the scenes”¦. oh, yeah — sure we are, people. (°L°)

Larry August 19, 2007 at 8:37 pm

Rant, good post! If I ever get the chance, I’m going to try and figure out exactly how cycling is governed, and compare cycling to tennis, and golf. Tennis and golf have pro atheletes that need to be ranked and accredited, they do drug testing (well, tennis does), they have national federations and the equivalent of a grand tour. Why don’t tennis and golf have the same problems that cycling has?

Morgan Hunter August 19, 2007 at 10:10 pm

“Hoist them by their own petards” — Larry – The Sunday Times January 11,
2004 — David Walsh”¦(°L°) wrote an article about “doping in tennis” — the passage of time may give us something to reflect on, consider:

Mr Walsh’s’ article was entitled “Losing the War Against Drugs” The sub heading for the article was — “Doping presents the biggest threat to sport, but attempts to eliminate it are foundering because authorities don’t have sufficient stomach for the fight”.

In the article Walsh deals with one “doping event” of the time — “THE most telling figures in Greg Rusedski’s sorry tale are not the five nanograms of nandrolone that are now the subject of so much debate in British sport. No, the numbers that matter are the dates which chronicle Rusedski’s journey from the sports pages to the front page,” Mr Walsh comments. And if you choose to read the “article” you would see that it is just that, “an editorial comment.”

If we dive under the personal hyperbole Mr Walsh throws out we come to the interesting observation that “pro cyclist” are no different then say, tennis players. That Mr Walsh believes that the ATHLETE is the opportunist who is using unfair measures to win, not just to win, but also to win at any costs — in this case the cost being the pure “integrity” of professional tennis.

Mr Walsh then continues to “wow” us with a comparison he makes using soccer — which is also a “comment” on what he believes the state of football/soccer to be in — throwing in for good measure the implications of course that certain people involved in bringing the “true world game” to us, the fans — are simply not to be trusted to do the right thing.

“Despite the evidence that doping has infiltrated most sports and constitutes the greatest threat to their integrity, the battle is being lost. We speak glibly of the cheats being one step ahead of the testers, but that is only because sport has not had the stomach for the fight. Football, the true world game, accepts drug-testing on its terms, believing that the game’s extraordinary wealth somehow allows immunity from the sanctions governing others. Consider the absurdity of this: because a footballer earns 20 times more than anybody else, he can be given only half the suspension meted out to a poor sod in a low-paying sport, such as athletics or cycling.”

I present this moment in sport writing history to ask — Who the hell is Mr Walsh editorializing for? I believe that Mr Walsh would have us believe that he is a writer who “champions” the concept of CLEAN SPORTS; of a “fair and even playing field”, of transparency in sports”¦we the viewing public, the fans — have a RIGHT to expect this”¦and he is merely the “voice” of all “fandom””¦oh really? He talking for you, Larry?
I don’t think he’s talking for me — I do that for myself.

The pen is mightier than the sword — you can believe it. More people, groups, countries have been dealt lethal blows by the pen then by the actual sword — the pen can be turned to manipulation, to poisoning, to confusing and to making people so upset that they will react without really thinking. But then — perhaps, that is what certain sports writers are actually doing? (°L°)

After all — what is the real problem? Oh yeah — “DOPING” — “cheating” — “Unfair advantage” — “low life scum athletes””¦It is preposterously far fetched that the real problem there is that one governing body wants to control a sport and their favorite way of getting the public going with them is to destroy their athletes in the process — how convenient for them (and good for us) — that they are able to identify for us (the fans) the real villains — “them no good, untrustworthy, stab you in the back, do anything for money athletes!””¦(°L°)

Morgan Hunter August 21, 2007 at 12:51 am

I must say – I’m disappointed in you people – you gonna let me get away with just laying all that on you? Where is your fighting spirit?

William Schart August 21, 2007 at 7:24 am

Well Morgan, here goes:

We have had at least 2 doping “scandals” making headlines during July here in the US: Bonds and the Tour. They have been treated rather differently, IMO. Outside of San Francisco, in general most sport writers have been on the negative side regarding Bonds, but, and here is the big but, all this negativity is directed at Bonds. There is no talk of MLB being “dope-ridden”. Gambi just got a walk for admitted drug use, justified on the basis of his “good works” lately in the anti-doping field. Any outcry on this in the press? I haven’t seen any. Most mentions of this seem to be buried in either the agate section or the “MLB notes” type of thing, where only the baseball diehard is going to look, not the general public.

Now look at the situation regarding the Tour. Cycling is portrayed as a thoroughly rotten, doped up sport. “All riders dope”. “You can’t win if you don’t dope”. The Tour needs to be shut down”. “Pro cycling is degenerating to something like pro wrestling”.

Right now, to me, the biggest problem in cycling is the fight between the 3 big tours and UCI, with WADA standing on the sidelines playing both sides against each other. ASO and the other tour organizers are reluctant, understandably, to relinquish control of the events which they have developed over many years. UCI is looking to cash in on the action and become more than just a governing body. I am not sure what WADA hopes to gain from all this; Dick Pound seems to have something in for pro cycling, but what exactly is the history here, I don’t know. He might just be looking for a big notch on his gun, if he can take cycling down.

What can we do as fans? Not much, I am afraid. We can “rant” all we want here but I doubt that the powers that be pay much if any attention. Most of us here in the US are not in a position to support or not support say the TdF by either attending or not as a demonstration of which side we are on. Heck, since I don’t get VS I can’t even use that a a channel to make my opinion count. About all we can do is hang in there and hope for the best, that things will eventually work out.

Morgan Hunter August 21, 2007 at 9:03 am

I knew you had fire in you William – I am almost jumping with glee – Your explanation of the MLB situation is as clear, succinct, and direct as everything I’ve read from you.
In case anybody else thinks otherwise – I’m not blowing hot air at William – go look for yourselves – the man has more then air between his ears! READ what he writes and you will see he deserves respect. You got mine, William.

I realize that we, as fans – especially back in the States, are left feeling COMPLETELY HELPLESS and IMPOTENT. After all, William as you so astutely point out – you all can’t come here and hold a protest, or even “change” channels – so to speak. Would it surprise you if I tell you that that kind of “protest” can be spun against us? Besides – IF we were to hold such a rally and all show up at a stage or start of every stage of the Tour – we would all get marginalized as nothing more then “one of those protest groups” – besides – all of us there , we’d wind up looking like a bunch of fans and they would be absolutely right…no?

Do not forget William – the Tour “controls” the media where they are – maybe not in a “draconian” and obvious way – but one does have to get “permits” for everything to be near the action – including scratching yourself…okay – maybe not scratching…

William – Does anything strike you as familiar about this statement:
“Doping presents the biggest threat to sport, but attempts to eliminate it are foundering because authorities don’t have sufficient stomach for the fight”….?

I am not “playing” intellectual “oneupmanship” here William. I would rather that you find it yourself. I don’t want to make you think the way I think – I prefer that we do not lose the “resource” of your fine intellect. Or anyone else’s here in this site.

BECAUSE THAT FINE INDIVIDUAL INTELLECT is our weapon. It is when this intellect is assaulted by hyperbole, partisanship, and plain old media manipulation that we “experience it as “helpless”. The other major problem in any adversarial or manipulated situation is when the “spun” group or individual” cannot identify his/her opponent. If you are emotional attached to the issue AND you don’t know who is kicking you because you’re in the dark – how do you expect to fight your opponent?
YOU CAN’T.

So lets start – The statement, written in the above mentioned article was written by David Walsh…Yes – that David Walsh who seems to have some “issues” with LA…What I find fascinating is that ALMOST WORD FOR WORD, the same statement has come forth from the mouths of both Messrs – McQuaide and Pound…now I ask you – what do you think the odds are of that – it was not like either “gentleman” said, “By the way – I just read a wonderful statement that states everything that I as UCI chief or WADA chief think, expresses the real problem in sport, cycling in particular”…So how did these three people “happen to speak the almost exact same statement? Simple – Walsh is the media mouthpiece for them both.

To understand that connection – you can begin to see who the “enemy is” and how he fights.

There is more to this then just what I’ve written now – I seldom write without intent. I think and believe that our greatest weakness at the moment, as fans is that we don’t really “know” much of anything – other then what is spun at us…my intent in writing is to change that. And fellow bloggers on the Rant line – MACHIAVELLI is from THIS NEIGHBORHOOD – something good – not to forget.

William – let us say there are five million racing fans in the states – who are not merely in it for the party – what do you think would happen if each of those dropped a note expressing his dissatisfaction with certain behaviors in cycling?
To WADA ,To the UCI, To the IOC, To the USDA or to Congress who holds the purse strings…? every week for a month? I believe we would cause a little stir.

Michael August 21, 2007 at 12:39 pm

Morgan,
I admit to having trouble following some of your rant, but I think I got the gist. Perhaps the solution would go something like the following:
UCI becomes the riders union working specifically in the best interests of the riders and the sport in general. Event organizers would need to apply for a permit to have their event sanctioned by the UCI. As the representative of the riders they would periodically test riders for health purposes (establish baseline physical parameters for all licensed pro riders and make sure everyone is “healthy” or “clean”). This is not to be confused with in-event testing.
Event organizers would remain free to invite whomever they wish to their races. However, the UCI is not obligated to sanction their events. The event organizers would be solely responsible for drug testing at their events (after all it is their credibility at stake). They can, depending upon the scale of the event, require limited pre-race testing. Anybody testing positive may be disqualified or not permitted to start, but only the UCI would have the power to revoke a license or dole out punishment.
Two things that this does: It removes the influence of the IOC (through WADA), which has not shown to have cycling’s long term interest at heart. Also, this would eliminate the influence of regional/national governing bodies, which have been shown to be politically motivated and easily intimidated by WADA.
If the riders are the source of the power that the UCI has, then the race organizers cannot screw them (what if the riders union just told the ASO that no riders would start Paris-Tours?).
The race organizers being responsible for independent testing would serve as a good check for the UCI “health” tests. This would also lessen the motivation for screwing around with the tests during a race.
Of course this will never happen.

Morgan Hunter August 21, 2007 at 1:06 pm

Yeah Michael – you are cookin’ – I have to confess here that I am not the best one to “think tank” this aspect of the situation. But I shall give you my sense of it. As I see it – you point at ONE of the problems that exist in todays situation. The riders have absolutely no “protection” – so your defining the roles clearly, is definitely in the right direction – Could we expect the UCI, as their name implies to represent the riders – not a snow flakes chance in hell – NOT THE WAY THEY THINK OF THEMSELVES RIGHT NOW. Not unless they realize that their position is in trouble because people are really watching what they are up to. Not just watching but who will act to stop them or make them change their ways. By the way – that could very well be us – the fans and the riders.

I am certain there is someone out there who can enlighten us about a bit of history. Am I completely off track in believing that originally the UCI was supposed to be the “racers” representative?

If we look at any sport – all the way back to what we know of the Olympics – there was betting going on. I believe we must accept this. to declare “no betting” is like declaring prohibition – we know how well that went over….

I don’t think any rider objects to testing. But to put that in the hands of the UCI doesn’t seem like the best idea – they are there to protect the riders – if they also “controlled the testing – this would cause too many problems – and as it is seemingly happening now – nobody believes anybody. I think ALL testing should be done by law enforcement – or a neutral body that all can trust. Since the UCI is reping the riders – their interest would be to called into question by the organizers, do you follow me?

As it would appear the organizers have formed their own group. I have nothing to object to this. Do you? After all – NOBODY should have the right – as in business – to come into a business that “you built up” and simply take it over. As to who they “invite” this is something that needs to be more clearly understood. After all – just because there is a “team” doesn’t automatically make them literally good enough to race against the worlds 200 best. We know who the “best are” by their placing and winning. The UCI could be made to keep the records for this. I can’t see anyone objecting, unless I miss scenarios due to simply lack of knowledge.

As in

just bitch slap me please August 21, 2007 at 2:09 pm
Morgan Hunter August 21, 2007 at 2:09 pm

Sorry Michael – I jabbed the wrong key – and I cannot submit untill someone else does so first.

As in ANY proper union – the riders should get fair pay for their services. They should have representation – a rider should not have to go to the poor house to fight an accusation. As in what is going on with Floyd.

As to testing. NATURALLY TEST. Cheating does occur – will occur, has occurred. I believe that riders are no less honorable then say, oh pick two – dick Pound and patty Mcquikie….no wait – I take that back – I believe that most of them are a lot more honorable – since I haven’t heard too many riders throwing others out to be devoured by spun insinuated guilt…have you?

Neither the UCI or the Organizers should be responsible for testing. Both parties open themselves up to being accused of using the testing to control the outcome of a race…WAIT – that may be said to be happening now – sorry – I will stay away from sarcasm.

Okay Michael – that’s about my limit with your solutions – as I said before – I’m not the expert here on this. Everything I’ve said is merely what I think would be fair for every one…I am certain that it all has to be “developed” to cover all possibilities within reason.

One thing for damned sure – NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO PLAY JUDGE; JURY; COURT; ARBITRATOR who has a vested interest in the outcome of a case. (°L°)

As to the IOC via WADA sticking its nose into it all – I am dead set against it. I have no actual factual knowledge about this – so I relate what I have heard – DO NOT TAKE AS FACT please – there is a history of “bad-blood” between Hein Verbruggen and Dick Pound and or the IOC – AGAIN this is what I have heard – as yet I have not gone back far enough to check out what has been left in print…And perhaps it will be smart to ask – why the pot is calling the kettle black…since the Olympics has had it’s share of doping scandals as we all know…Maybe one of you out there would care to do that?

Morgan Hunter August 21, 2007 at 4:07 pm

Jbsmp – Very cool of you to turn me on to this – It is now 1 in the morning where I am and I’ve just got home from work – so – I have to read these itsy, bitsy, teeny, weenie – short articles – I will need at least a few minutes – no I’m kidding – Would it be all right with you if I respond in about 8-10 hours? HAVE MERCY – I’m really old….
(°L°)

And Michael – sorry man – you tell the damned finger to go one place, well you know – it goes sometimes where it will…Looking forward to your response.

…I’m ashamed to say this – but I knew you guys wouldn’t let me get away with nothin’
(;-)))))))

William Schart August 21, 2007 at 5:27 pm

The UDI was founded in 1900 by the national organizations of France, the USA, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland. It is the governing body for international cycling. As such, I don’t think it can and should be a riders’ union. But I do think it should confine its activities to making and enforcing rules for international competition, perhaps resolving scheduling conflicts, etc.

One thing I think the UCI and cyclists in general should consider is getting out of the Olympics. Cycling has plenty of international competition at both the amateur and professional levels that it doesn’t need the exposure the Olympics give. By getting out of the Olympics, the UCI could tell WADA to take a flying leap, we’ll do our own anti-doping program. The UCI then could develop a system of testing which would give riders better rights against false positives or minor or inadvertent violations, while hopefully netting a significant percentage of those who truly are cheating.

With the WADA out of the picture, even if there was squabbling between various parties in the cycling community, there wouldn’t be a third party standing on the sidelines trying to play both sides against the middle.

Rant August 21, 2007 at 7:21 pm

Jbsmp,

Thanks for pointing that out. I happened upon Ken’s post yesterday or the day before.

Everyone,

Good discussion going. Wish I could take part more, but the day job has hammered me pretty good.

Keep on ranting …

– Rant

Morgan Hunter August 21, 2007 at 10:22 pm

We miss you Rant – hang tough pal – do as I do – I tell my self – “hey, it can’t last forever…can it?” – the nice people here are holding my elegant size 14’s to the fire and doing a damned good job of it.

William – thanks for the “hard” facts – you always come through – so if the UCI was founded to govern Cycling – then it should govern cycling. It certainly clears up a few things. As William points out, back in 1900, France, the USA, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland were already trying to reach a way to agree on some rules that everyone could follow. It also indicates, that more then likely – the people who formed this group came from the organizers of cycling camp; so one would then have to ask oneself – whos’ interests were they looking out for – not the bikers, at least not primarily, rather the organizers. Am I correct William?

Let us look at this for a moment in a non-adversarial light. I am coming at this from a point of outrage – I am outraged at how the pro-cyclist is handled by the UCI. Unconsciously, I had the impression that they “should” have been fairer to the cyclist. This perception is naive and completely my own bias.

William is absolutely correct – the UCI cannot represent the pro cyclist, and looking at the state of affairs as it is now – The UCI has revealed that it is run in a biased manner. So even though they are the governing body for world cycling and their charter is apparently “pro-organizers”. This is not an accusation, but an observation. To correct this, we cannot mix it up with the problem of today’s pro cyclist. And because of the situation today – the UCI, also cannot be in charge of testing.

The pro cyclists have to form their own union. NOT a governing body for cycling world wide – but a true representative of the pro cyclists alone. Lets give them a name – The International Union of Pro Cyclists (IUPC) – This union therefore also cannot be in control of testing.

Even though WADA would like to be very much in control of telling every one who is clean and who is not – their actions prove themselves to be “self-promoting and selfishly based” – I wouldn’t let them test my dog for drugs, that is if I had one. Sorry, personal opinion, may feel good to express it but it does no good to change anything. Knowing that WADA has its own agenda, by looking at their actions and behavior, this disqualifies them a testing body.

Testing needs to be done by a separate organization – my suggestion is law enforcement – interpol, for instance…I say Interpol only because they are an international organization and any testing would have to have “every country” involved in racing as a part of it – and accept international law and not just the law of any one particular land…something to think much more on to be able to discuss it clearly.

Okay – I am not trying for absolute and flawless reasoning here. I am “thinking” – to think clearly we need to see the structure as it is and not through the projections of our own biases and prejudices, Yes? I am not trying to present a solution, but merely my thoughts on this matter. It is my hope that the rest of you all – will take a moment and do the same – if you do – we can work this through and come up with real solutions and not just mere gripping and “ranting”…and more then likely we can change the system to be fair.

Thank you William, Jbsmp, Michael, Larry, cam and most of all Rant – for having patience with my bumbling ways – I think we may have found a workable direction.
What do you all think?
(°L°)

Michael August 22, 2007 at 6:57 am

I think you guys are correct that the UCI shouldn’t work as a Union. . .my bad. However, as William says, it should be the sole enforcer of the rules for professional, international cycling.
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A top level rider should have a UCI license. Not a national license permitting international competition. The national license and national cycling authorities should be limited to national events. How is it that Patacchi could be cleared by the Italian cycling authorities but still have to defend himself before an appeal to the CAS? This double and triple jeopardy for cyclists is bad public relations policy for cycling.
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It seams we all agree that the problem is that cycling serves too many masters. UCI, WADA, national ADAs, ASO, IOC, blah, blah, blah.
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I guess my original idea was that the races should remain autonomous, merely looking to the UCI to enforce the rules of fair-play outside the boundaries of the actual race. Within the race, the riders should be bound to the race authorities, subject to authorization (license?) of the UCI.
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How about this: the UCI represents cycling in general – the race organizers, racers, teams, and support personnel. All having to obtain license from the UCI. The UCI, with such a mandate, must be in charge of testing and enforcement. Of course today’s UCI is woefully inadequate to perform such a role.
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I absolutely disagree with the idea of cheating being treated as a criminal matter by law enforcement (unless of course the cheating is in fact against the law, which would be pursued and prosecuted separately outside the sport). Cycling is a professional sport and its governing body should be in charge of the rules and methods of enforcement. Clearly, they cannot put themselves into a position where fairness can be questioned. That’s just bad business. But, if the governing body does not have clearly defined roles regarding the rules and their enforcement, then we have the current situation.
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The IOC and WADA must go. They are superfluous and merely muddy the water.
The race organizers cannot be put in a position where they are not in control of their events. This is obviously unacceptable to them. Likewise, race organizers have to accept that they do not run the sport.
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The riders cannot be put in a position where they are assumed guilty of cheating (beyond the obvious unfairness of this, it is bad for business) before due process.
The resolution of adverse test results must be performed judiciously and expeditiously to ensure that the winner is known before they start the next edition of an event. Duh
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All testing methods must be as close to perfect as is humanly possible. Any tests that require “interpretation” of random peaks, spots, snots, or otherwise, are just not good enough. A rider incorrectly sanctioned is a totally unacceptable situation – it is better to miss a dozen cheats than to mistakenly ruin a career.

Morgan Hunter August 22, 2007 at 7:50 am

Hey Mike –
Whether doping is treated as criminal or not is going to have to be addressed. As I see it – if a rider is doping himself – that is quiet different from the guy/girl being a “supplier” – don’t you think? – I still think that going through this ongoing present “doping mania” – I sure would feel a lot more secure if my tests were conducted by a lab that was certified and up to standard – not only that – but having regular spec testing being done on it too, and, independent from the organizers and the UCI.

If the UCI is the holder of the “rules” in cycling – I have no beef with that – but by making them also responsible for keeping the Sport “clean” – there are just too many opportunities for manipulation – as I think most of us are strongly suspecting now. As William points out – The UCI should confine its activities to making and enforcing rules for international competition, perhaps resolving scheduling conflicts, etc.

Hey Jbsmp –
I have read all that you sent me to – Unbelievable and absolutely fascinating – Only problem is – I don’t know how we could use this to change what is going on now – As it is generally addressed in this part of the world – it is “the Americans version of the truth”…it would seem that the results of the Arbitration hearing is being put into a non scientific, light – as in – “Well what do you expect – Landis’ lawyer is just doing a hatchet job on a descent French Lab..”

As yet I haven’t figured out how to separate the personal and national biases – it is frustrating – I do not question what I have read from Environmental Chemistry – but the discussion has no solution if one side does not accept that the presentation is factual and not based on lawyers tricks – sorry you lawyers out there, or that the “Amees” are just trying to stick it to the French….do you see where I’m going with this….

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