Those Pesky Rules

by Rant on February 26, 2008 · 75 comments

in Doping in Sports, Tour de France, UCI ProTour

It turns out, our fine feathered friend Mr. Pat McQuaid may actually have a bit of a leg to stand on when he claims that the Amaury Sports Organisation, organizer of such events as Paris-Nice and the Tour de France (among others, including the Paris-Dakar rally which was canceled this year) may actually have to invite all of the UCI ProTour teams to their events, if they’re listed on the UCI’s ProTour calendar. That would be the case even if the ASO no longer holds a ProTour license for these events, but the events are still listed on the ProTour’s calendar anyway.

As Larry pointed out in a couple of comments on the previous post (here and here), two sections of the UCI’s rules seem to be in play here. First, the rules that McQuaid contends requires the participation of all the ProTour teams can be found in sections 2.15.261 and 2.15.262 of the UCI’s rules for road cycling (page 127):

Participation of UCI ProTeams
2.15.261 The organisers of events must allow participation of all UCI ProTeams at each one. UCI ProTeams are obliged to take part in all events in the UCI ProTour calendar, subject to an agreement between the organiser and all of the teams on the participation allowance for each event.

2.15.262 Without prejudice to disciplinary sanctions laid down in the rules, any team or members of a team whose presence will seriously damage the image of cycling or of the event may be excluded from taking part in that event.

Exclusion is requested by the organiser or the UCI. If the member(s) or team(s) in question does/do not agree to leave the event, the organiser or the UCI shall refer the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport before a single judge and in accelerated proceedings. The CAS shall reach a decIsion taking account of all relevant interests.

A few paragraphs earlier, in rule 2.15.255, the UCI rules describe what obligations exist for race organizers whose events are listed on the ProTour calendar without a ProTour license. The rule says:

2.15.255 The UCI ProTour calendar includes, in addition to the events for which the organiser has obtained a licence, other events as decided by the UCI ProTour Council.

These events are governed by the UCI regulations in general, to the exclusion of articles 2.15.001 to 2.15.254. The status of these events in the ProTour calendar is governed exclusively by the provisions of this paragraph which take precedence over any contrary provision.

There’s an interesting thing going on in these two quoted rules. First, in 2.15.255, the UCI says that certain obligations that come with a ProTour race license, such as requiring the organizer to invite all of the ProTour teams, don’t apply to those whose races are listed on the calendar, but don’t have the ultimate UCI “Good Housekeeping” seal of approval. Seems pretty straightforward, until you read those pesky follow-up rules on the next page.

So here’s where the dispute between the ASO gets very interesting. Turns out, Pat McQuaid is right, the UCI’s rules for inclusion on the ProTour calendar do require that all ProTour teams be invited to participate. That would be rule 2.15.261, listed above. In essence, when they drafted this section of their rules, they first took out the requirement (by saying a certain block of rules don’t apply) and they then added that requirement to invite all ProTour teams back in. Which would mean that for Paris-Nice, all 18 teams (including Astana) should be lining up on the start — if Paris-Nice is listed on the ProTour calendar, which is an issue we’ll come back to in a minute.

In the meantime, there’s 2.15.262, a rule that says an organizer doesn’t have to invite a team that they feel casts the event or the sport of cycling into disrepute. This is pretty much the reason given by both the ASO and RCS for not inviting Astana to their events. Based on events of the past, they feel that the Astana team is too tainted to be worthy of inclusion in their events. That’s debatable, especially given that certain other “tainted” teams did get invites. But hey, it’s their party they can invite who they want to.

The rule also includes a provision that disputes over a team being barred from an event will be settled by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in “accelerated proceedings.” OK, so what this means for the battle being waged between the ASO and the UCI is that perhaps the proper place to be fighting would be in front of a panel of CAS arbitrators, rather than in the media. Just a thought, mind you.

So both sides have some rules in their favor in the war that’s currently being waged. Now, the ASO has said (in effect), “Fine. Be that way. We don’t need your help. We’ll organize Paris-Nice with the help of the French Cycling Federation (FFC) and put it on their national calendar, instead.”

They can do that, under UCI rules, but there are a couple of provisions that limit just who can participate in a national calendar race, regardless of the nation involved. Here are the rules about National calendar races (found on page 3 of the UCI’s road cycling document):

National calendars
2.1.008
The management of the national calendar, its structure, the classification of national races and the participation rules are the responsibility of the respective national federations, subject to the provisions below.

(article introduced on 1.01.05).

2.1.009 Only the UCI continental teams of the country, regional and club teams, national teams and mixed teams may participate in national events. Mixed teams may not include riders from a UCI ProTeam.

(article introduced on 1.01.05).

2.1.010 A national event may accept a maximum of 3 foreign teams.

(article introduced on 1.01.05).

2.1.011
National federations may conclude agreements for the participation of foreign riders residing in border zones; such riders shall not be considered foreign riders. These agreements must be presented to the commissaires’ panel presiding over the race.

(article introduced on 1.01.05).

OK, so let’s say the ASO organizes Paris-Nice with the help of the FFC as a national calendar race. The FFC, as a member of the UCI, would still have to follow UCI rules. So, in issuing a permit or license to run the race, the ASO would have to agree to abide by certain rules. Like 2.1.009 listed above, which governs who can participate. Notice who can’t, and that’s UCI ProTour and Pro Continental teams, or their members. (UCI Continental designation is a lower rung in the UCI hierarchy that either the ProTour or Pro Continental designation.)

Now, three “foreign” teams can be allowed into such races. as can teams from “border regions” (would all of Europe be eligible to be a “border region” for the Tour de France?), but presumably they would have to meet similar criteria. Meaning, no ProTour or Pro Continental teams. Kind of limits who could race in Paris-Nice or the Tour, eh? The races would still be a huge spectacle to behold (briefly, perhaps, depending on fan reaction and attendance on the roadsides of France), and the efforts would still be heroic compared to what most of us could do. But the level of competition would be seriously compromised. Then again, this is a sure-fire way for a French cyclist to win Paris-Nice (or the Tour, if they go that route, too). Gotta say, this is certainly one way to end a 20+ year drought.

But I don’t seriously think that Christian Prudhomme would change the ASO’s races to national calendar events just to ensure a homegrown winner.

In this dispute between two of cycling’s oldest organizations (and ironically, the organizers of the Tour de France were among the players instrumental in the formation of the UCI about 100 years ago in order to standardize the rules of professional cycling), both sides are able to quote a rule here or there in their favor. My reading of things suggests that the UCI has the upper hand in terms of the existing rules.

But the ASO has the upper hand in terms of owning the races. Should they decide to go it alone (which apparently they have), and should they decide to flout the UCI’s rules, are there any punishments that could realistically be levied against the ASO? None listed near the rules I’ve quoted here, which is not to say there are no punishments possible. They may exist in a different part of the document.

Whatever fines or penalties the UCI might levy against the ASO for failing to follow their rules, I don’t think the ASO will worry about too much. More to the point, however, would be what might befall a rider or team who participates despite any official UCI boycott that might occur.

I’m not too sure that all 18 ProTour teams would boycott even if Pat McQuaid orders them to do so. Sponsors have expectations that their investment will mean something — which is why Unibet bailed after sponsoring last year’s ping-pong ball of a ProTour cycling team. If a sponsor wants their team racing in Paris-Nice or the Tour de France, and if the team sits out despite an invitation to ride, I suspect the sponsor will be more than a little upset.

Both sides in this war are blowing some smoke. But they both can cite legitimate rules as to why they’ve chosen their course of action. Who will win this tug-of-war? I’m not placing any bets on either side. Who will definitely lose if this war drags out for very long? That’s easy: The cyclists and the fans.

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BSMB February 26, 2008 at 8:15 pm

Yes, isn’t it interesting how ASO does seem to hold most, if not all, of the cards for the races they own. I guess I don’t see this as an issue of power as much as I see it as an issue of money. ASO clearly figures they will make more money on these races if they kick UCI out of the equation. And the riders may get extra scrutiny:

“Under French law the AFLD can test nails, hair and even skin samples and Bordry has said that it may be necessary for his organisation to undertake testing outside of France in the run-up to the Tour, if indeed they are charged with running the Grand Tour’s anti-doping programme.””

I have heard that pubic hair will hold illegal substances mush longer than head hair. Maybe they’ll send some of those french babes from the podium for hair samples. Hell, they can take mine!!!

Rant February 26, 2008 at 8:20 pm

BSMB,
Very interesting, indeed. I’d be very curious find out more about those extra tests they’ll be performing.

trust but verify February 26, 2008 at 8:45 pm

I’m sure there are some Pro-Continental teams licking their chops at the opportunity to fill a vacuum left by absent PT teams.

I don’t see how ASO can lose, unless their sponsors bail out because of compromised competition. I see that as likely to happen as the Indy 500 losing out to the “better” competition of CART.

The prestige of some races may go down, but the owner of the prestigious races still hold the commercial cards that matter.

TBV

Morgan Hunter February 27, 2008 at 5:13 am

It would not be a bad idea to recall that ASO has been “buying” up a lot of outland” smaller race organizers too…

If we recall the little brouhaha that went down with the French “vice-president” last year – and the hint that the French are ready to go their way – the actions of the ASO should not be so surprising. There were direct references made to this when the “vice” quit…and what they were ready to do…it would also allow the French to just basically ignore that LNDD has been caught – being a sloppy lab, to say the least. I wonder how much of what has been revealed about the LNDD’s practices has been “aired” to the French viewing public?

There must be some other factors that we are not being told behind the scenes here – I cannot imagine that EVERYBODY at the UCI is as dumb as Dickie appears in print. There is a kind of “board of governors” that represent the UCI – I cannot believe that all of these people are as idiotic as Dickie comes across.

One thing to consider – if one has a suspicious mind set and I do – is that up to a few years ago – both the UCI and the organizers could get away with anything and simply put the blame on the riders.

This ain’t happening as effortlessly for them as of today – another thing – the teams – got smart and set up their own “blood testing programs” – so they would not be at the mercy of WADA or the UCI…just something to consider in the mix.

As things are going – we are getting closer to a proper litigation process – and although we have yet not achieved “transparency” – there are just too many eyes watching everything and “controlling” the races may not be that easy anymore.

For ASO – it would be much easier if it could rupture its standing with the UCI – and WADA too – then they are back to “controlling” their own races – doing their own “doping controls”….they are therefore not “answerable” to any global rules and laws…not a bad thing if you want to “control” who gets to play in your sand box….

CAS also seems to have made an effort to “act” as a real “high-court” with its rulings last year. The UCI and WADA were not “happy” with some of their “decisions” — Do we then find ourselves “wondering” why Dickie P wants to be able to “select the arbs” for CAS?

Another point to consider – the IOC seems to have way too much say in what is going on in “pro-sports” – being that the IOC philosophy has little to do with “reality” of “pro-sports” yet they have been “controlling a lot of activity and defining” the ways that “pro sports should behave…mostly behind the curtains.

The “rationale” given is that in some way the IOC has some kind of “higher standards of morals” and therefore they are suited to do this…BUT WAIT JUST A MOMENT – The IOC itself is not an “amateur program organizer” ONLY the “participating” athletes are supposedly “amateur” – So what have we got – You got WADA – “defining” what is “right and wrong” – WADA is nothing but an arm of the IOC creation – the UCI is a development of the old guard organizers – and they have “lost control of it.”

The end result of all this “infighting” seems actually to be a good thing for the sport of cycling – each time these groups are “forced to make their stances public” – they reveal themselves a little more…as the real villains behind the troubles and perditions going on in cycling.

I don’t think this can be called a bad thing, do you?

Jean C February 27, 2008 at 6:34 am

Euskatel, Quickstep and Lotto have already confirmed their participation at Paris-Nice.

Will McQuaid resign after this expectable failure?

William Schart February 27, 2008 at 7:05 am

Morgan:

The Olympics have given up the amateur thing some tine ago, hence Hamilton’s drug bust at the Olympics, the US BB team is comprised of NBA players, etc.

In addition to looking at rules, I think we should also consider what options each side has to enforce the rules each chooses to use. The ASO can always ban any team/rider it wants too. I mean, if Astana shows up to try and enter the PN, what could they do? Even if no one tries to stop them from riding on the race route at the same time the official peleton does, all ASO has to do is ignore them in the standings.

But UCI has a few arrows in its quiver too. It can always suspend any team/rider who enters a race against their wishes. So if the teams that Jean C mention do ride PN, UCI might suspend them. Again, they might not be able to physcially stop them, but they could always ignore any results.

In high school sports (and probably college too) athletes are restricted in their ability to compete in their given sport outside of the interscholastic organization. If they violate those restrictions, they lose their eligibility, and if they compete on the school team, and are discovered, the team will have to forfeit any game they took part in.

Since it is possible that this could end up in CAS, which probably should have been done when it first came up, the question arises “what means does CAS have to enforce its decisions?”

N.B.O.L. February 27, 2008 at 8:14 am

The only real weapon that the UCI has is the Olympics. If the riders violate the rules by participating in an unauthorized event they can be made ineligible for the Olympics. I would think that if the FFC doesn’t follow the rules, it would be possible for the UCI to disqualify all French riders from the Olympics.

The UCI could also impose penalties related to other Pro-Tour races, but with what is left of the Pro-Tour calendar, I’m not sure that is a real threat.

Morgan Hunter February 27, 2008 at 8:58 am

William,

Exactly to the point. My comment was more nebulous then yours – yours concern the strategy and possibilities open to the two groups – mine was trying to look more at the motivation and causes behind these movements. I realize it is completely subjective and it was not intended as a form of scientific dissection of the situation – I’m just thinking – “where’s the money and where’s the motivation.”

Joe February 27, 2008 at 9:22 am

N.B.O.L.,

I agree that the UCI’s only weapon is the Olympics. Can the UCI escalate and kick out the entire French Olympic team, not just cycling? That might actually have meaning to the general public.

Rant February 27, 2008 at 9:26 am

Joe,
I suspect that the only way they could do that would involve some behind the scenes politicking at the IOC. Depends on just how many allies they have in Lausanne. If they have enough clout, perhaps they could.

Jean C February 27, 2008 at 10:05 am

As expected all teams have chosen to run Paris-Nice.

Jean C February 27, 2008 at 10:13 am

Joe,

Why not use nuclear weapons for a fight between neighbour?

If UCI can do something, it would be only on French cycling.
IOC want to remove cycling road from JO, so to use IOC power could be a bad choice for cycling, but with McQuaid the stupidity seems to have no limit.

Sara February 27, 2008 at 10:23 am

except CSC (so far)…

Rant February 27, 2008 at 10:24 am

Jean,
Seems like the next move is up to the UCI. I wonder what they’re going to do.
By the way, do you have a link to an article about this? I saw the item at the cyclingnews.com web site about some of the first teams you mentioned. Haven’t seen the more updated information, yet.

Sara February 27, 2008 at 10:37 am

http://www.wielerrevue.nl/nieuws/het-laatste-nieuws/artikel/ploegen-kiezen-de-kant-van-organisator-aso/?tx_ttnews%5BbackPid%5D=4&cHash=a0bdd4a238
google transl.
UCI seems to be the big loser in the power struggle with ASO who recently focussed on Paris-Nice. The UCI demanded this week of the teams that they boycott the course, but there is probably not justified. 19 of the 20 teams are unanimously of the opinion that they just start in the French race.
Only CSC abstained allegedly of a position.

Morgan Hunter February 27, 2008 at 11:10 am

http://velonews.com/article/72909

but this also —

CPA reminds cycling’s organisers of riders’ interests

http://www.cyclingnews.com/news.php?id=news/2008/feb08/feb27news2

Well – the surest way to break ASO and the French Movement would be to set up a high profile race like the Tour at the same time slot and offer it up to the teams — really the sponsors”¦but how realistic is that?

Rant February 27, 2008 at 11:58 am

Sara and Morgan,
Thanks for the links. Most appreciated.

William Schart February 27, 2008 at 12:19 pm

I wonder if McQ had support from others in UCI, or was he soloing here? Either way, it seems the ball is in his court now.

Set up an alternative tour? Don’t think you could pull that off this year, but maybe for 2009. Let’s see, a 3 week stage race with mountains in July. Maybe a Tour de USA, hitting both California and Colorado (or other parts of the mountain west). Given enough $$ it could be done. Main issue then would be convincing teams/riders to forsake France. Could be a big problem.

Art February 27, 2008 at 12:47 pm

The Olympics is one race every four years. Great publicity for Pursuiters and Track and Field athletes and kayakers etc. But one more cycling road race – who really cares?

But about this organization model where those who run the event also control the participants – doesn’t that remind you of a couple of other “sports”, like Pro wrestling and Roller Derby?

Larry February 27, 2008 at 1:14 pm

It is not to be believed that McQuaid would have stuck his neck out like this, without having lined up in advance even a SINGLE team to support him.

I am surprised that the teams were able to make such a quick decision, and even more surprised that it was unanimous. McQuaid has accomplished something I would have thought was impossible: he’s gotten the pro cycling teams to all agree on something.

Ball’s in your court, Pat. Here’s hoping for your sake that you’re thinking more than one move ahead in this chess game.

Jean C February 27, 2008 at 1:16 pm

Rant,

Sorry I am late but you have your answer.
I have probably a post waiting validation. Don’t worried about. You are innocent until proven guilty. I would like nevertheless to check your hct level!

The last news:
WADA say : “Blood passport will be available on TDF despite UCI/ ASO battle”
http://www.lequipe.fr/Cyclisme/20080227_215850Dev.html

Rant February 27, 2008 at 1:37 pm

Jean,
Found and approved. My hct level has never exceeded 50% (that I know of…). Whenever I’m in danger of exceeding the limit, I just down a few gallons of Gatorade. 😉

Jean C February 27, 2008 at 2:42 pm

Larry,

It seems that you just discovered how stupidily was running UCI since Verbruggen.
I do think than American people are unfamiliar of the real situation. We, euros, are laughing at their actions. We, as fans or athletes are constantly surprised of their reelection: we have just 2 explanations :
* corruption-mafia
* or stupid people

Now it’s really time to fired them, and put a new management able to work with riders , teams, organizers and WADA.
Maybe we should launch a petition. A fund is not neccessary!

Sara February 27, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Well I, an Euro too, don’t like at all of the image of ASO running cycling or any other sport… They have their reasons to run their shows, and they don’t care zero about the sport ethicks, doping or fair play. Money is their motive and I despice their efforts to try to crack this beautiful sport.
UCI is all to blame too, these kind of fights should have been done behind closed doors, not in the media when cycling is suffering already from a serious credibility problem…
I don’t even dare to think what comes next in the circus called cycling, but I’m not too many steps away from turning my back on it if this insanity continues.

Just to spice (!!!) things up as the season starts, this is excatly what we need…

http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/27022008/58/coni-demand-year-ban-di-luca.html

Larry February 27, 2008 at 3:47 pm

Jean C, for the new president of UCI, I nominate Anne Gripper. She strikes me as smart and imaginative, and I think she deserves most of the credit for UCI’s pushing for the biological passport.

If Anne turns it down, my next choice is Sara. I like the way she thinks, and she already lives in Europe.

I would nominate Rant, but he lives in the U.S., and with the current level of the dollar, none of us Americans could afford bus fare from the airport to the UCI office.

Steve February 27, 2008 at 6:26 pm

I like Larry am fundamentally baffled by what McQ accomplished by brinkmanship without something in his quiver — and what he thought he would accomplish.

Why would the teams and sponsors vote to boycott? Why is it in their best interests for at least the short term? It is likely that ASO has flexed as much muscle as it can this year. While ASO have the divide and conquer tactics down as they did to Unibet to break the ProTour, and they are doing to Astana this year to break the UCI, it is likely they will back off while they are ahead. So the teams that are not being bullied by ASO are happy to keep their heads down and let ASO beat on Astana for a while while they attend the races.

For the future of pro-cycling I wonder why any sponsor once their contract is up would renew. It is fundamentally a terrible investment. As a sponsor now you are buying into a capricious monopoly (ASO) with no rules or checks and balances on their absolute power. Time to run for the hills if I were a sponsor I think.

So what was McQ thinking? I find it hard to believe you can be as stupid as he appears to be and still be able to dress yourself and make it to the toilet on your own. What he needs to do is to expedite the hearing with CAS described above and get some legitimacy on his side, weak though it may be, or else simply cave and collect the salary and be a nice figurehead. Right now the UCI now they have been defied by the teams, and as it appears WADA will supply the passports to the TDF regardless of the UCI, and I doubt the riders will strike, they are now irrelevant.

While the UCI was dysfunctional in the extreme, ASO with absolute power will make cycling like wrestling, but at the end, the overwhelming superiority of gallic culture and sportsmanship will always win. I think I will be tuning in wrestling it will be a lot less pretentious.

, Their investment would be seriously comprimised as ASO is unlikely to fold — so they would be sitting on the sidelines without the big races for at least the first 1/2 of the year..

Rant February 27, 2008 at 7:42 pm

Larry,
If they paid me in euros, I could probably afford the bus fare in from the airport with a bit left over for a good cup of coffee. 🙂

Larry February 27, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Rant, if I’d only known! Well, if Anne and Sara turn down the job, you’ve got my support.

Steve, the teams do NOT like what ASO is doing. They want to know that their Pro Tour license buys them a spot in the grand Tours. That’s the crazy thing — McQuaid could probably have lined up some team support for some kind of action. In fact (as Rant has reported), McQuaid claims that the teams all voted that should all be included in the Tour de France.

But the teams do not want to boycott Paris-Nice, any more than they want to be excluded from Paris-Nice.

I agree with most everything you wrote except the part about French culture. Vive la France!

Jean C February 28, 2008 at 1:20 am

Sara

As you say, if ASO is all about money why would they crack cycling? If you are removing the roof of your house, it’s probably to fix it. ASO has no reason to damage their goods.
ASO organsize Tour de France but they need a lot of agreements from french authority, it’s not like sport played in a stadium.

Steve,

If I were a team sponsor I will speak with organizers in first to what are the “hidden” rules. Sure there is hidden rules.
If teams are upset why they don’t speak from the secret agreement made and why ASTANA has been excluded?
I don’t know a DS who would say “Yes last year my riders were using PED and I kwew it and I have done nothing!”

Mc Quaid proved his incompetence to run cycling, and ASO has the big job to protect their goods when scandals are constiniously succeeding ( Festina, Pantani, Armstrong, Herras, Puerto, Landis, Riis, Vino, Rasmussen, TMob, … and now Di Luca and Mazzoleni?)

Steve you don’t have to go to wee wrestling, the last 15 years cycling was like wrestling but you didn’t know it. If you prefer a good show than sport, it’s your choice.

William Schart February 28, 2008 at 5:13 am

I am starting to think that perhaps ASO knew in advance what the teams would do. Maybe they contacted teams secretly, or maybe they just figured that they control enough races that, if they were to ban teams for boycotting PN, teams seasons would be more or less wiped out. They could always run the TdF this year with the low level teams. This is basically what the NFL did way back when, and it didn’t do much damage to the NFL. Or they could shut things down for a year, like the NHL did a few years back. NHL is still alive and well.

Over at TBV, they are reporting McQ’s response: basically it’s just “you’ll be sorry, because there’s a clause in the contract you [teams] signed with ASO which says any rider or team which might bring disgrace to the race gets kicked out.” Or words to that effect. If that’s all he is going to do, this is all over and ASO has won.

Sara February 28, 2008 at 6:01 am

Jean, I didin’t understand your metaphrase, just as don’t understand how you can rationalize this mess as being good for cycling.

I’ll vote Rant or Larry for Patties job, you’d be brilliant! 🙂 A rationalal mind is what cycling desperately needs right now.

Steve February 28, 2008 at 6:59 am

The difference between wresting and the Tour in the last 15 years was the race was not fixed by the organizer — like the matches are in wrestling. Yes, the Tour had dopers, but guess what EVERY sport in the last 15 years has had dopers, and regardless of dopers it came down to riders (that may have doped to win) against riders (that may have doped to win). Not optimal, but not wrestling.

In wrestling the result is preordained for corporate interests. When ASO has total control about who races and under what conditions they race that is no longer sport it is spectacle – like wrestling. It will be like those post-tour criteriums where everyone knows who is going to win.

I question people that maintain that ASO care so much about doping. Doping was going on for a long time before the French police busted up the Tour in 98(?). Not ASO — the police. ASO knew or chose not to know about doping. Like the UCI, and the teams and the riders took advantage of it. And guess what, seems that things bumbled along pretty well with the doping thing until the ProTour.

This fight between the UCI and ASO has little to do with doping. It is all about controlling the money. ASO has it, UCI wants it. ASO has one motivation — to protect their properties for commercial benefit. Not cycling, mind you. Growth of cycling that is against their commercial interests is not good for them (ProTour).

My point is that for cycling to grow as a sport it needs a fair system of checks and balances, not a monopoly, sorry, I should say a cartel as you could include RCS in with ASO.

Jean C February 28, 2008 at 7:00 am

Sara,

Sorry, there were a lot of faults in my precedent post.

ASO need to satisfy their own sponsors and TV.
TDF is not a short-term business. ASO don’t want to damage their goods. Cycling is ill, TDF too, UCI proved to be unable to fix it, someone has to do it, there is no time left to wait. The warning rang when german TV retired and many TV wanted to reduce drastically their payment.

Who want to put money in a sport with 1or 2 big scandals/year?
There is 2 big answers: pushing under the rug like footballs, MLB, or treating really the problem.

ASO’s actions have probably been discussed with their sponsors, with TV and so. In a such case, ASO has probably shown to their partners some options… and a choice was done.

Teams have sponsors because races are broadcasted… with less broadcasting every team has less values.
By restoring confidence in TDF, cycling’s value increases and teams will have less difficulties to find a sponsor.

Morgan Hunter February 28, 2008 at 7:11 am

Steve,

There are some that would disagree with you on whether ASO or the other organizers have “not fixed” races…

And as you yourself mention – the “post-tour” crits – and “everybody knowing” who is going to win – well – consider that there is a great deal of money to be made in “knowing” who is going to win, place, show or whatever in the Tours – The riders are “prepped” just like any other “sporting event” where betting has a big hand in…

One of the reasons that the “rules are in such a mess” is directly due to the efforts of some in racing to make sure that “prepping” can take place…

Morgan Hunter February 28, 2008 at 7:16 am

To think that the battle for who gets to say who races is merely a battle between ASO and the UCI – is being rather naive.

There is the Teams
There is the Sponsors
There are the Organizers
There are the Betting Syndicates
There are the Governing Bodies

And then come the Riders

William Schart February 28, 2008 at 7:51 am

And the riders are caught in the middle, with no one really looking out for them.

Jean, how does all this help to clean up cycling. ASO kicks Astana out, allegedly because of their past history, but there are other teams ASO seems perfectly happy with that have history of drug use. If we are to believe you, basically the whole peleton dopes, so taking down 1 team out of 15 or 20 is not much help. Are they trying to “send a message”? Like, “See, if we don’t like you, we won’t invite you to are party, so you’d better play like we want you to!”

Or was Astana picked because they now have 2 of 3 podium riders from last year and the drug story is just cover? I think it would be pretty hard to “fix” the Tour in terms of making one rider win; too much can happen over three weeks, like crashes, the chosen rider getting sick or injured or the like. Unless you can control everybody, but even then, a rider could still crash and be forced to retire. However, it would be much easier to fix a race in terms of making one or several favorites not win. Spike their food or drink so they get sick, or maybe even spike with PEDs so they get AAFs and DQed (NAZI frogmen, anyone). Pay some domestique to take them down.

Now I don’t pretend to know what ASO’s motivations are here. They might simply be trying to assert their power to run their races the way they want to and don’t have any hidden agenda. It is possible even that they think Astana’s past sins are so great that their exclusion is justified and other teams’ guilt is of a lower order.

Some time ago TBV had a post looking at the situation in auto racing here in the US, with several sanctioning bodies: NASCAR, CART, Indy, etc. We may be seeing the start of something like this. ASO sets up their series of races, somebody else has another series, like perhaps the 3 US tours (CA, GA, MO), maybe someone else doing track, and so on.

Larry February 28, 2008 at 8:01 am

Gotta say, at this point in the UCI-ASO dispute, Jean C is making a lot of sense to me.

Who do I trust more with control over the Tour de France, UCI or ASO? At this point, ASO. Hands down.

Jean C is right, the TdF is ASO’s most valuable property, and they have the greater interest in making the TdF the best possible race. In contrast, UCI is more interested in the Pro Tour than the TdF. UCI was willing to decimate Paris-Nice this year, in order to make a point about how cycling should be governed. Advantage, ASO.

There seems to be some concern here that the ASO will favor French interests. Well, up to a point, I’m in favor of making the Tour de France as French as it can be. This is one of the great things about the TdF — I’m very proud of my home state Tour of California, but racing past vinyards in Burgundy is just more interesting than racing past fields of artichokes in California, and the Alps have it all over the Tehachapis. (Memo to Versus announcers: its the Too-ur de FRAHNZE, not the Too-ur de Frehnse. Bob Roll is exempted from this direction until he learns to pronounce “Tour”.) Yes, there SHOULD be a full roster of French teams in the race. This adds to the interest of the race, just as when a Brit does well in Wimbledon or the British Open (golf). Remember that most of the people lining the roads during the TdF are (not surprisingly) French. Give them a rooting interest.

ange February 28, 2008 at 8:09 am

Like most cycling fans, I can’t wait until this fight for who is king of the sandbox is over and we can all enjoy the racing. That said, there has to be a king of the sandbox so that when parties disagree (which seeems to be frequently in this sport)there is someone who makes THE decision and everything continues to move forward. ASO wants to be the king and the question is, “is this good for the sport of cycling?”

Without question, the answer to the above question is NO! ASO will take care of their own interests and its Franco-centric view of the cycling world. Competition means nothing when some of the competitors are excluded for dubious reasons.

Yes…McQuaid should have met with the teams and riders before making such a proclamation to see what their response would be. Predicably, they want to race and probably are being pressured by sponsors to validate their paychecks with exposure at such races. As it is now, McQuaid weakened his position without the immediate support of the teams and riders. The next move should be a CAS hearing to determine Astana’s inclusion in the TdF

I hope, however, that for future races, the teams/riders realize that an ASO governed world is not one they want to live in. They need to realize that in the end, it is they who are the trump cards in the power struggle as there won’t be race without the riders.

Morgan Hunter February 28, 2008 at 9:06 am

Believe it or not – everyone of the things you mention William has been used at one time or another. “Proving it” is another matter.

You all want to “trust” somebody? – Between ASO or the UCI – I think you all are being innocent and perhaps willfully naive.

Cycling is a “pro-sport” just like pro-boxing – a “fair and clean” that sport is…done to make money – and that is the only reason the sponsors and teams and organizers are in it for…

The Riders – well – they begin because they love to ride – but in the end – why should we condemn them for wanting to get a “Cut of the pie?”

Michael February 28, 2008 at 9:37 am

Larry,

I agree with your assessment of who is better at running the respective races. No doubt ASO is more competent than the UCI. However, what is the correlation between running the races and running the sport? This is not meant to be a rhetorical question. ASO clearly runs the best races around. I know, I like the Philadelphia race, someone else might like the Tour Down Under – but ASO puts on a hell of a show.

However, ASO has shown a gross disregard for the growth and long term health of cycling as a sporting organization. I say that not to claim that anyone else has shown any management skills, but rather to establish that ASO’s interests are not necessarily the same as a governing body’s (if cycling had one) would be. I think it is clear that ASO should keep its nose out of the day to day management of the sport, and the UCI should stop trying to manage the races. The idea of protour teams was a good idea (a sponsor knows in advance what races he can expect his investment to be invited to), but the idea of protour races and that a protour team must ride in all those races was dumb. If ASO were truly interested in the long term health of the sport why wouldn’t they work to fix this rather than destroying it altogether? And if the UCI had half a brain they would allow the protour teams to decide what races to ride based upon their sponsorships and riders. Does anyone outside the UCI really care about the Tour of Polland? NASCAR doesn’t race in France, why is the UCI trying to go to Africa and China? Oh yeah, “growth.” How’s that working out?

And Steve is clearly correct – ASO is just as culpable as the UCI for the state of doping in the sport. They both found it easy to look the other way for a long time. I would argue that for a long time these organizations didn’t consider doping as cheating and it took a lot of evolution before the governing body and the organizers came around to the public perception of doping. After all, these organizations are all run by ex-cyclists who doped in their day.

Larry February 28, 2008 at 11:08 am

Michael –

I don’t see ASO trying to replace UCI as the governing body of cycling. I don’t think they could do it, I don’t think they want to do it, and I don’t think that anyone else wants them to do it.

I’ll interpret your comment to say that ASO does what it thinks to be in the best interests of ASO, and if that happens to conflict with what might be in the best interests of someone else, that’s too bad. I can probably go along with that. We can talk about actions that ASO has taken that are contrary to the best interests of cycling – one of the worst is the elimination of the team time trial, which was always my favorite day of the Tour. I figure they got rid of that because Postal/Discovery had gotten too good at it, and that they’ll quietly bring it back some day now that Postal/Discovery is gone. Maybe someone here knows why there are no team time trials in the Tour any more.

OK, I’ll admit that I’m not a huge fan of ASO. I’m still angry at ASO for the insulting way they treated Lance Armstrong. I also connect ASO with the role L’Equipe plays in the leaking of confidential information (this seems fair, ASO owns L’Equipe) and with the shoddy practices at LNDD (that’s probably NOT fair). But I don’t have a huge problem with their exclusion of Unibet last year. I don’t have a huge problem with their exclusion of Astana this year, so long as they figure out a way to get Contador, Leipheimer and Kloeden into the race. So, let’s say that I don’t like many things that ASO has done, but at least they seem smart to me.

In contrast, we have UCI, who (to be kind) do not seem smart to me. UCI was willing to flush Paris-Nice down the toilet, an action which was arguably not in the best interests of the sport, and was certainly not in the best interests of this year’s Paris-Nice race. UCI says it did this because Astana was excluded, supposedly to protect the interests of the Pro Tour teams. But on this point, I don’t believe UCI — if UCI was acting in the interests of the Pro Tour teams, then he should have been able to get some level of support from the Pro Tour teams in return. Instead, the Pro Tour teams rejected UCI and sided with ASO, almost immediately, and unanimously. Obviously, the Pro Tour teams didn’t see UCI’s actions as in the best interests of the teams. I think everyone in cycling sees the UCI acting here in what it thinks is the best interests of UCI, and cycling be damned.

Michael, you’re right, UCI and ASO should have worked this out a long time ago. I don’t know whose fault it is that this situation has not been resolved — presumably, both sides share a portion of the blame. But I DO understand ASO’s position. ASO would like to have some degree of control over who races in its Tour. Just like the Tour of California wants to have more than a few American teams, the ASO would like to have its share of French teams. A compromise would be easy to work out, so long as McQuaid did not insist (as he apparently has been insisting) that every Pro Tour team be invited to the Tour de France. McQuaid’s position became even more difficult for ASO to accept when the UCI increased the number of Pro Tour teams to 20 — that effectively meant there would be no wild card teams for ASO to select.

McQuaid needed to realize that the Tour de France is unique. Most other races (even the other two Grand Tours) want to FORCE the best teams to ride in their races. This is like the current situation in golf: what if you hold a golf tournament, and Tiger Woods does not show up? The other races want to make certain that the best teams and best riders ride in their races, and the Pro Tour system works well for this. But the Tour de France has the opposite problem: everyone wants to race in the Tour de France.

McQuaid knows that much of the value of a Pro Tour license is a guaranteed entry into the Tour de France. If ASO takes that away, the value of the license drops, and that is bad for UCI.

UCI needed to compromise with ASO, to share power over who gets to race. As best as I can tell, UCI was the entity that refused to compromise.

Now, as for Sara’s comments about my candidacy for UCI president. I am not a candidate for the post of UCI president. I plan to spend my remaining days clearing brush from my 4800 square foot ranch in Southern California. The fact that I have formed a twenty person UCI presidency exploratory committee should not be interpreted as interest on my part in this job!

William Schart February 28, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Larry:

While I don’t see ASO as trying to take over from UCI as THE controlling body of cycling, I do see them trying to set up as an independent competitive series outside of UCI. They have the PN and TdF, as well as Paris-Roubaix and some other races and there are rumors of them taking over the Giro and/or Vuelta. It is conceivable in the not too distant future they could control a pretty big series of races, big enough to serve as a “season”. Whether that is their goal or not, who knows?

Regarding the TTT, the big tour promoters have been fiddling with the format for years, sometimes apparently in reaction to a result that they did not want. What about the last day TT? In 1965 (or thereabouts) my original hero Anquetil used that to clinch his victory over the much more popular Poulidor, and the next year, no more last day TT. It was briefly revived in the 70’s, Jan Jansen used it to win, and it only lasted one year. Then, in the 90s our fav GL used it to beat Fignon. Think we’ll see a last day TT anytime soon.

And just in case anyone accuses me of Francophobia, the Italians eliminated the mountain pass that Andy Hampstein attacked his way to his Giro win on. And of course, here in the US, MLB teams are always fiddling around with their ballparks, moving the fences in or out or whatever they can get away with trying to get an advantage.

Jean C February 28, 2008 at 12:44 pm

FFC and ASO are ready now to run Paris-Nice by themself but they have kept the door open in case UCI would assume his role.
http://www.lequipe.fr/Cyclisme/20080228_202640Dev.html

Michael February 28, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Larry,
I have no argument with anything you said. . .and here’s the “except”: I can come to no other conclusion other than to believe that ASO is trying to eliminate the UCI. For what that is worth.

Along with the millions of other unsolicited opinions that a web site like this creates, mine goes along as follows: The UCI should have created no more than 10 Protour teams. Then stuck with that number. This would allow ASO/RCS/etc. to select up to half the field (or more) for their races. The protour teams must be given an invitation to the top races on the calender (but not be required to race – like Euskatel in Roubaix or Lotto in the Vuelta). The top races invite the top riders and the top riders go to the top races, but that can’t be a closed system (as it is with the current Protour). There can’t be 100 protour races; maybe 20? Every other race (and all the wild card entries) would fall into the open-event category, subject to the whims and desires of the race organizers and their ability to draw a quality field.

The Tour is not the Super Bowl. It’s not the Olympics. It’s a private race that up until recently was run by nationalistic Luddites. And I was fine with that. They gave a wild card to Team 7-11 on a whim. That was cool. They used to give wild cards to low level D2 French teams. It was always exciting watching these second tier French guys ride their guts out to win a stage. So 18-protour teams forced into the TDF was not necessarily best for the event. On the flip side, is the Giro better off with 18 Protour teams? Or Tirreno-Adriatico? (those are rhetorical questions) The recent loss of so many classic second tier races would suggest that the Protour as devised was not the solution.

I believe that most of the problem with Unibet was that it eliminated another wild card for ASO to select. From ASO’s perspective the UCI was breaking their agreement regarding the number of teams. And they were justified in their anger, if not in their actions.

But I can’t quite come to the same conclusion with Astana. Would ASO have excluded Astana if Astana had obtained a new title sponsor (say “team Pepsi?”)? Because as it stands they are merely punishing a sponsor named Astana. Would they have punished a sponsor named Pepsi with the exact same management and lineup? I don’t know the answer to that question, but I expect not. ASO’s argument is that “Astana” damaged the tour; not Contador, or Bruyneel, or Liephiemer, etc.

But, you are correct, if ASO wants to exclude them, what is the big deal? The TDF is a lesser event for such pettiness, but is that such a bad thing?

Do you have a tractor for your 4800 square foot ranch? Or a push mower?

Rant February 28, 2008 at 1:39 pm

Jean,
Thanks. For those who aren’t fluent in French, here’s a machine translation.

ange February 28, 2008 at 1:59 pm

Larry,

If ASO is effectively controlling a large proportion of the major races in conjuction with the organizers of the Giro and they are selectively inviting cyclists based on their own criteria (not necessarily performance), then they are exerting control over the sport that only an international governing body should have. One would think that the teams and riders would see it that way and hopefully, they will eventually. There is no reason that riders who have completed their suspension time or who are not “popular” with the ASO crowd should be restricted from racing

Yes, I agree that UCI should have found a way to at least compromise with them last year on the Pro Tour team inclusion issue regarding the TdF, but in that regard, why couldn’t ASO just include all 20 teams and add 2 wild cards on their own. It would add about 18 riders at the start which doesn’t seem like a big deal to me. In golf by the way, all Pro tour card holders are eligible to compete in ALL tournaments whether the organizers like them or not.

Jean C February 28, 2008 at 2:50 pm

Ange,

Pro Tour teams are not selected on their performance, they have just pay a licence at UCI.
Some PT teams are build to win classics but not GT, some teams are build for GT. Why chose one and mot another?
What about a PT teams who send their team B on GIRO or for training?

You should read how were selected the team before the bad choice of UCI.

Without the agreement between PT, Vino could be able to ride next year when Moreni need to wait 2 years! As we have seen with Operation Puerto, all riders are not treated equally. In some countries riders a,d team manager have easily a pass for their forfaitures. Is-it fair?

Why DS can chose their team leader? Is-it fair ?
How are selected the riders inside the team for TDF? Is-it fair?
Are all riders contracts fair ? Why a rider and not an other?

As you can see in cycling is not easy to have clear criteria to do a selection as it is easier in sport like golf, tennis,…

Larry February 28, 2008 at 3:01 pm

ange, let’s use Pro golf as a point of comparison. It’s not quite correct to say that all PGA Pro tour card holders are eligible to compete … The PGA Tour sets up a priority ranking system. Not all golfers with pro tour cards have the same priority ranking, and not every tournament uses the same eligibility requirements to rank priorities.

Each year, the top 125 golfers on the PGA Tour (measured by earnings) receive a tour card. This gives them an exemption from qualifying for MOST of the next year’s tournaments. Players ranked 126-150 get a conditional tour card, giving them priority for places not taken by players with full cards. There are also slots available for the top finishers in “Q-School” and the second-level Nationwide tour.

There are also a ton of special exemptions – if you win a major championship, for example, you get a five year exemption from having to qualify to play in tournaments.

There is a separate PGA European Tour, with players crossing back and forth between PGA and PGA Europe events, and I think the money earned on one tour counts for qualifying in the other tour.

Most of the regular Tour events have between 132 and 156 players at the start. If you add it up, there are more than 156 players at any time with pro tour cards or current exemptions. so not everyone is guaranteed a place. There are a number of tournaments with special small fields, like the first elite event in the FedEx Cup series, where only the top 30 golfers can play. So-Called “Invitational” events are smaller than regular events, where only the top 70 on the previous year’s money list get automatic invitation, plus past champions. Nearly all events have special categories for sponsor’s invitations.

The 4 Major tournaments all have special rules. For example, the Masters tournament and the U.S. Open only guarantees invitations to the top 30 from the previous year’s money list, though there are a lot of other ways in (for example, being in the top 50 on the Official World Golf Ranking).

(I’m ignoring Rider’s Cup, President’s Cup, etc., which is top 12 players plus wild card selections.)

I’m pulling this information from wikipedia – for example, see “Men’s major golf championships”. The PGA web site also has a ton of information – see http://www.pgatour.com/players/pgatour-exempt.

Golf is a great example of a system that considers (with considerable fairness) a large number of factors in determining who gets to play where, and that allows individual tournaments (particularly the major tournaments) to play a role in who gets to play. Cycling could learn something from this.

trust but verify February 28, 2008 at 3:47 pm

If the ASO wants to give the UCI the heave-ho, all they have to do is set up their own “independant” sanctioning body, the same way the Indy Racing League was set up to beat down CART. The IRL is “separate” from the Indy 500, but mostly the same top level people are/were involved. At the same time, it looks and feels like a “normal” sanctioning body, with rules and rule enforcement independent from promotion of events.

Do you think race promoters might decide to roll the dice with the new body rather than deal with the UCI? It wouldn’t take much, I don’t think.

The only thing this wouldn’t have is a connection to the Olympics, where the UCI would still rule. Track people could still race UCI events, and the Olympic road race and time-trial would have a different cast than has recently been the case. I’m not sure how many people will really care — as someone observed, there are a lot of bike races, and the once-every four year thing may not have the prestige of many existing classics and tours.

Despite the best efforts of the FIA to kill it, the 24 hours of LeMans remains viable, and it needed to create its own related and feeder series to do so.

TBV

Jean C February 28, 2008 at 4:09 pm

TBV,

ASO cannot set up a new UCI… in France the french cycling federation has all the power on cycling races. If FFC want to stop TDF, they could!
Every entity which would run a cycling race in France, even on a private circuit, must have an agreement with FFC. It’s the same for each sport pro or not, they are all under the responsability of ONE federation.

When UCI will have competent management, all will be fine.

William Schart February 28, 2008 at 6:44 pm

As I recall, in the early days of mountain bike racing, NORBA existed outside of the USCF balliwick, with the USCF essentially ignoring MB racing. Some situation for BMX, there were a couple of BMX organizations, USCF could have cared less about BMX racing at the time. Then there was some sort of “bicycle league” some guy set up in the 90s, with city-based teams competing with 2 teams riding a criterium, with each team getting points for sprints like a points race. As I recall, this too was conducted outside of USCF.

If ASO wants to go it on its own, all it needs is cooperation of the authorities to close the roads and such like. FFC might have something to say about that, and might even have some pull to be able to prevent that. But if you have a venue to race at and riders to race, FFC, UCI or whoever can’t prevent you from holding a race. Unless there is a law in France that prevents you from promoting a race without FFC sanction.

Of course, national federations can alway pull the license from any rider who races in such outside events, so riders might be forced to choose which way they want to go. As far as I know, the UCI does not have any direct control over individual rider licensing, but they do license teams, and could pull team licenses.

But really, I don’t think ASO wants to go this far. What they wanted, IMO, and what they got is the ability to control who gets into their races. Now the question is “How will they use this ability?”

Steve February 28, 2008 at 7:03 pm

I don’t believe ASO wants to remove the UCI. They want a severely diminished UCI that effectively is unable to get in their way of their interests. ASO needs the appearance of legitimacy, they also need someone to blame when things do badly — take for example, doping, note it has conveniently became a failure of the UCI and not the overall system of which ASO were a major, if not dominant player. Perhaps if ASO had started tossing teams from the tour on the rumor of doping in the early 90’s the culture of doping might not have taken root quite so deeply. Who knows.

trust but verify February 28, 2008 at 9:40 pm

in France the french cycling federation has all the power on cycling races. If FFC want to stop TDF, they could!
Every entity which would run a cycling race in France, even on a private circuit, must have an agreement with FFC. It’s the same for each sport pro or not, they are all under the responsability of ONE federation.

Is that because there is some legislation that requires the FFC to be involved? What defines this special status?

As was noted above, it seems like all “Grand Tour Cycling League” needs to do is (a) get permission to be on the roads, like any other planned event (like a parade); (b) get insurance; (c) convince riders and teams it is viable compared to UCI sanction.

In the US, we may not fully understand the monopolistic power credited to federations. There is a multiplicity of auto racing sanctioning bodies, most of which are not connected to the FIA. Except for access to the Olympics, what special status does the FFC hold?

thanks,
TBV

Larry February 28, 2008 at 10:41 pm

TBV, you wrote: “In the US, we may not fully understand the monopolistic power credited to federations.”

Sure we do. See Federal Baseball Club v. National League, 25i U.S. 200 (1922) and Flood v. Kuhn, 407 U.S. 258 (1972), ruling that organized baseball is a legal monopoly enjoying antitrust exemption under federal law. There is, of course, no legislation supporting either ruling; in the Flood case, Justice Blackmun quotes “Casey at the Bat.”

Also, the National Football League enjoys a partial antitrust exemption, although their exemption is based on statute and not on the odd reasoning of the Federal Baseball and Flood cases. The Sports Broadcasting Act of 1961 allows the NFL to “pool” the broadcasting rights of all teams and negotiate exclusive contracts with one or more broadcasters. Pro football also received an antitrust exemption from Congress, allowing the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. This legislation does not prohibit the establishment of other football leagues (like the USFL), but it does prohibit third parties from suing the NFL to force an AT&T style split-up.

Most of this information can be found on Wikipedia.

Jean C February 29, 2008 at 1:55 am

In France, sport is “regulated by laws”.
Each sport is linked with one federation which is the regulatory authority and a non-profit association in charge of promotion, developpement and regulation of that sport. The member of a federation are generally the clubs.

All competitions are dependent of the federation.

Main obligations: french championship, french team and JO selection (if JO sport).

Sometimes, some sport can be found by historical reason in 2 or 3 federations, even in that case just one federation is regulatory authority.

No competition can be done outside the federation without an agreement of the federation.

SO THERE IS NO POSSIBILITY TO HAVE an UCI bis ON FRENCH SOIL
or TO HAVE A TDF WITHOUT AN FFC’s AGREEMENT

Steve February 29, 2008 at 6:24 am

Jeezzz, Jean, if France is a nation where sport is regulated by laws it sure appears the laws need some serious work.

A question for you — if France is a signatory of WADA rules etc. how could they sanction Landis when the WADA rules explicitly state that the sanctioning body is the atheletes national federation?

The extent of the law appears to be when it is convenient for French interests.

William Schart February 29, 2008 at 6:32 am

Larry:

It is true that pro sport leagues in the US have some monopolistic features, however there is no law that prevents someone from setting up his own league, if he can line up venues, etc. See AFL, XFL, etc. for examples. There is, in fact, no national federation for football, theNFL, NCAA, and the National Federation of State High School Athletic Associations rule, after a fashion, their respective “jurisdictions”, but none of them even claim to control the sport of football as a unified entity. Same is true for basketball, which is an Olympic sport, and baseball.

However, if I am reading Jean’s post above, French law apparently dictates that all sports be conducted within the system of the appropriate federation. If that is indeed true, then ASO needs to remain in FFC good graces.

karuna February 29, 2008 at 6:49 am

Steve

To my best knowledge is the TdF the number one export product of France.
The ASO is not just trying to protect their interest in the Tour itself. France economy is connected to it. So there is another angle that investors want to keep the TdF to be the most important cycling race in the world.

Seen from that perspective there is not much chance that the FFC is soon going to disagree with whatever the ASO comes up with

Larry February 29, 2008 at 7:28 am

William, great points. There are monopolies and monopolies. It’s true that there’s no single football or baseball federation in the U.S. that controls all organized activities in the sport. It’s also true that you and I are free to set up our own sports league, in competition with, say, the National Football League. However, U.S. law DOES exempt the National Football League from certain features of antitrust law, meaning that the National Football League DOES have a semi-official status as the U.S. “federation” for pro football. It is practically impossible to set up a league that would truly compete with the N.F.L.

Major League Baseball enjoys even broader protection.

We can also look at USA Cycling, which is a “federation” of sorts, given its official status within the UCI and the IOC. William, you and I can organize a cycling race in the U.S. without the cooperation of USA Cycling, but I don’t think we could get USA Cycling-licensed riders to ride in it (that’s a point worth checking).

Maybe as we learn more from Jean C, I will change my mind, but I don’t think the monopoly power Jean C describes from the FFC is all that different from what we see here in the U.S.A.

Granted, there’s a difference between the monopoly power of major league baseball and the monopoly power Jean C describes for the FFC.

Jean C February 29, 2008 at 10:45 am

Steve,

Landis’ case occured under the “old” regulation in France, so it’s following the old laws in France while it’s the new WADA rules in US.

trust but verify February 29, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Jean, could you explain/point us to the specific laws that define the power of the non-profit sporting federations?

This is odd and mysterious to those in the USA, because while many leagues have economically achieved monopolies, they aren’t de-jure (written in law) monopolies. Someone can come up with a new football league any time, and sometimes it works (the AFL) and sometimes it doesn’t (the WFL and the XFL).

The only one written into law in the US is the privileged position of the US Olympic Committee, for handling participation in The Games.

When you say the FFC has this veto power, we just don’t understand how it is justified.

thanks,
TBV

Jean C February 29, 2008 at 1:51 pm

TBV,

Sport competitions are regulate by federations. As non-profit associations there is no reason to have concurrence between entity for the same sport.

Could you imagine 2 UCI (ok for the moment it’s a very bad choice) running international cycling? or 2 IOC running their own JO ? It would be stupid.

It’s the same at national level.

The vast majority of countries are like this, especially for Olympic sports. In my career, apparently only Japan has multiple federations for some new sports and non olympic sports.

To take part at competitions, teams or individuals just have to adhere at their federation. Everyone can create his own football club, it begins at the lowest level (amateur), but after many years of success, he can have an access at the highest level which are profesionnal (around 10-12 different levels).

I hope that can help you.

Sara February 29, 2008 at 5:06 pm

Larry, it was a joke, I just pointed out that cycling needs someone with a rationale mind.
Enjoy your vacation! 🙂

I definetly don’t like that the organisors of the big races deciding which teams are allowed and not, Astana being dismissed from the Giro and all RCS races was a joke, what was the reason for it?
ASO’s even worse since they block the past winner and two podium finishers…

no wonder CSC is holding back if they’ll take PN or not, if they have to sign the insane agreement ASO is pushing… Riis is not a friend with the ASO…

And the insanity continues…

Steve February 29, 2008 at 5:38 pm

Karuna ;

“Seen from that perspective there is not much chance that the FFC is soon going to disagree with whatever the ASO comes up with”

Yes. My point exactly. Which makes me suspect that the Tour organized under the FFC is going to be anything other than a rubber stamp for ASO.

Jean

Didn’t the FFC claimed to ban Landis because he could perhaps race in races organized under the FFC? Really, when the ASO have total control over who they invite? It appeared from here they used a loophole to pile on because the Landis defense pointed out just how incompetent LNDD was, and the French authorities decided to get a kick in while they could. Sort of petty punishment — which to be honest, is exactly how the Astana ban appears to be, for different reasons.

I used to think the Tour was a pretty special thing, regardless of the doping, and reflected what I really liked about France. Sad to say it has now come to represent everything I don’t like about France. I will be glued to my cycling.tv for the season this year but not for the races that ASO organize. They might be the best races but I don’t think I will enjoy them anymore, and I will alway feel guilty that I am somehow supporting them by watching. Too bad they don’t have an ASO-free package I could purchase.

trust but verify February 29, 2008 at 6:02 pm

TBV,

Sport competitions are regulate by federations. As non-profit associations there is no reason to have concurrence between entity for the same sport.

Could you imagine 2 UCI (ok for the moment it’s a very bad choice) running international cycling? or 2 IOC running their own JO ? It would be stupid.

It’s the same at national level.

Jean, this is exactly where we are miscommunicating. I can easily see two federations — it is called competition, at the level of the sanctioning bodies. I’m looking for reference to some legal requirement that there be only one of these things, forming a de-jure monopoly. I mean, here I can incorporates a non-profit National HooDoo JuJu Federation, and claim to be the only one allowed to sanction HooDoo JuJu events, and I can arrange insurance, and have members who believe it. But without some external support, I can’t stop Rant from forming an American JuJu HooDoo League that does pretty much the exact same thing. People holding events might choose to work with me or Rant, or get their own insurance, or run with no insurance.

I can imagine two “UCI” just like I can imagine the FIA and ACO existing simultaneously. The ACO has about the same relationship to the FIA that the UCI has with the ASO — sometimes working together, sometimes not. Sometimes LeMans runs under FIA sanction, and sometimes it doesn’t.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automobile_Club_de_l'Ouest)

TBV

Jean C March 1, 2008 at 2:39 am

TBV,

Management of our federation are elected, if Rant or you are thinking that the current federation is doing a bad work, you can become a candidat like in a democracy.
No private entity owns a federation.

If you want create a new cycling race you can do it inside FFC too.
or you can create it outside FFC but FFC can put a veto.

Steve,

Landis has been treated like a French athlete by AFLD (Anti Doping Agency, not direct link with FFC). If you are guilty of doping, you are banned for competition of all sports. Since Landis’ USADA hearing, Landis was banned of all competition on french soil . By his CAS appeal, some “holes” were open so AFLD closed its until the next french hearing.

We french are not responsible of your dislike. Just have a look to Basso who is happy with his situation. Sure he has not said the full truth but less lying it’s better for all than denial, especially when all clues indicate doping!

trust but verify March 1, 2008 at 10:18 am

Management of our federation are elected, if Rant or you are thinking that the current federation is doing a bad work, you can become a candidat like in a democracy.
No private entity owns a federation.

If you want create a new cycling race you can do it inside FFC too.
or you can create it outside FFC but FFC can put a veto.

We’re still not reaching an understanding.

What gives the FFC the power to veto anything? It can’t be their own rules — there must be something governmental giving them that authority. What is responsible for that delegation?

puzzled,
TBV

trust but verify March 1, 2008 at 10:22 am

Of course, all it has cost Basso to adopt his attitude is time. He partial contrition hasn’t cost him the biggest wins of his career.

Please answer this as a hypothetical, with no need to concede or debate the predicate condition: If Landis is innocent, what should he have done and be doing different?

TBV

trust but verify March 1, 2008 at 2:30 pm

His partial contrition, not he partitial contrition.

oops,
TBV

Jean C March 2, 2008 at 1:55 am

TBV,

Federations and sport

It’s the french governemnt who gives the delegation of ruling the sport to one federation. You can creat a new entity in France for cycling but that new entity could only organize competition after an agreement with the FFC.
If FFC would disappear, an other entity would have to run competition cycling. A choice would be done inside the candidats by our sport minister.

Jean C March 2, 2008 at 2:43 am

Please answer this as a hypothetical, with no need to concede or debate the predicate condition: If Landis is innocent, what should he have done and be doing different?

A clean Landis would have 2 battles to do:
– the current AAF
– to explain why his performances are clean

By winning the second point, he will make easier his first battle to prove that there is an error in his testing.
He would have seek for scientists who want to study his body and its capacities.

Fisrt, just after the reception of the AAF, he would have given fresh blood, a lot of urines, and many (pubis and head) hairs. He would have requested to have a full health check control with all kinds of health parameter requested in more than one lab.
An analyse of those parameters would have be done by many different people (doctors, anti-doping doctors, sport doctors, …) choosing by him and by anti doping people. Eventually he would have done a meeting with all that people to discuss the finding. A published report would have be done

H would have tried under control (physical and medical) to reproduce his performances on a period of 15-20 days. Easy when he has his power output recorded…

Floyd would have explain all points which are likely to be indicating doping program. (Those I listed in earlier posts)

With that kind of program a Fund for Fairness and Truth would have been more successfull than the FFF.

By only winning the 2nd point Floyd would have been seen as clean even with a lost point 1. And he would have been welcome in cycling. He would have a good story to sell.

Currently Floyd has just tried to seek holes in testing… how can we believe him when we know the current cycling situation and we see incredible aerobic performance by man who don’t need to breath even on the steepest slope.

trust but verify March 2, 2008 at 8:46 am

There is no allowance for labs to do tests at an athlete’s request; it is in fact explicitly denied by the WADA code, as it could be seen as “helping the doper.” Legally under the WADA code, attacking the testing process is the only way to win, unless you know something I do not. No amount of subsequent testing, had it been possible, would be accepted as evidence he did not dope on S17. It would only prove “he isn’t doping now.” Nevertheless, he was tested in August by UCLA and found, surprise, negative.

Given his hip, he was in no position to conduct any wattage tests.

We have already discussed the possibility of his performance being natural — you don’t believe so, and I think the data is solidly in the grey area of “can’t tell.”

What you suggest is unrealistic; if he is innocent, he has very few options in terms of strategy.

TBV

trust but verify March 2, 2008 at 8:53 am

Regarding sanctioning, is the delegation by the ministry of something done as a regulatory decision, at the discretion of the minister, or something embodied in parliamentary law?

Does the minister have the discretion to permit multiple federations, or would that require a change of law?

Is the underlying legal position that to hold an event, (a) you need permission from the place(s) you’re holding it; (b) the local governments will request permission from the government; (c) the government refers it to the ministry; (d) the ministry refers it to the federation; (e) the federation really makes the decision? By shorthand, then, it appears the federation has the say, but it really went through a chain of responsibility before getting there.

What obliges the local governments from requesting permission from the national government? If a town ran a race of its own, in town, what would oblige it to seek sanction from the FFC?

TBV

Jean C March 3, 2008 at 2:45 am

About Landis:

What has done Floyd was just to attack the system when a lot of extern points reinforced his doping case. Why would their change their mind?

People (and the Anti Doping people) like me don’t believe that Floyd doped one times. It was a long doping program which had effect on his body. And can be detected by a longitudinal control including the test of many medical health parameters.

The use of steroid, HGH, … and so affect bones, many glands like liver, spleen,…

By providing normal heath parameters, the anti-doping would have seen Landis case differently. He would never has be seen after as a man using regularly PEDs.

There is a lot of labs able to do similar test as WADA lab.

Of course, with his hip, Landis should have to wait to do some physical measurement.

Jean C March 3, 2008 at 3:20 am

France is a uniq country with the same laws and regulations everywhere… there is nothing like “states” or city laws. We have just some historical laws for some regions like Alsace or our “foreign” territories.

About FFC:

When a federation has the delegation for a sport, it’s for “life”. Probably just a very very big affairs could forced to change it. Never seen or heard.
The delegation includes all sport level competition

The current case is just an internal sport problem. There is no reason to change something.

To hold a cycling competition, the first requierement is to have an agreement (implicit for FFC entity) from FFC and then to request local permissions (road,…).

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