“No licence holder may participate in an event that has not been included on a national, continental or world calendar or that has not been recognised by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI.
A national federation may grant special exceptions for races or particular events run in its own country.”
Rule 1.2.019, and its follow-ons 1.2.020-021 prohibit “license holders” from racing so-called “forbidden” events, those run outside of the umbrella of the UCI-recognised national governing bodies. The rule has actually been in force for some years, but has previously only been enforced for UCI pro road teams, and not for mountain bike racers of any stripe. That all changed with a ruling by the USAC, whose details first came to light through a video made by Barry Wicks on March 5th http://www.cyclingdirt.org/coverage/250535-Mellow-Johnnys-Classic-Pro-XCT/article/18978-Wicks-is-Calling-USACs-Bluff#.UTdN0pkRREQ.mailto
The UCI then issued a further letter to all governing bodies on March 26th, which clarified several potential loopholes, and gave no real hope for any mediation.
The letter stated that:
Rule 1.2.019 applies to ALL license holders, not just UCI/pro teams.
“Exceptional events” cannot be recurrent, cannot be organised by someone already active in the sport
Contraventions will be punished by suspension & a fine of 50-100CHF, about half a Grand Raid Cristalp entry…
In closing, Pat McQuaid makes vague reference to riders putting themselves at risk of having insufficient insurance in the event of an accident, whereas as we know in the UK it’s an open secret that BC/UCI insurance isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be (e.g. anecdotal evidence suggests it is nearly impossible to make any claim where another rider is at fault, although I would be extremely happy to learn that this wasn’t the case!)
Finally, bowing to huge pressure from around the world, a final UCI pronouncement was made on April 11th, stating that further consultation will be made with national governing bodies in preparation for full enforcement in 2014.
This all begs the question how, however. I have the rather amusing mental image of a bunch of UCI commissaries hidden in the bushes at an unsanctioned race, the sunlight glinting off their binoculars, frantically checking through a bunch of licenses to see who is racing a “forbidden event”. Such a totally unenforceable rule will make a mockery of us all; use a different middle initial on your UCI registration to the one you use to sign on at forbidden races, and bingo, problem solved. What the UCI have failed to grasp is that, in running events for mtbers, they are providing a service. If you look on a smaller scale, if your local gym started to fine you for breaches of an exclusivity agreement you were oblivious to, what would you do? It’s pretty obvious that you’d leave and join another gym. The UCI have chosen a particularly bad time to kick this hornet’s nest, when a very inviting alternative “gym”, the Enduro World Series organisation has just been set up, run by a group of people with a genuine interest in moving the sport forwards. Chris Ball for the World MTB Organisation President!
As for marathon racers, it leaves us in a sticky situation should this come back to bite in 2014; many of the big international European marathons are run under the auspices of the UCI, but historically there are many aberrations (e.g. the Grand Raid Cristalp for many years was run outside of UCI control, and only brought back as a result of the UCI world series). Worse still, many domestic marathons in Europe, the US, Australia & South Africa, are run outside of the national governing body by organisers who do not want to be encumbered by what they see as unreasonable bureaucracy and costs. This “enforcement” attitude sadly represents a sea change from the UCI’s previous approach to engagement with the marathon community, epitomised by the reintroduction of the marathon world series. If they insist on going down this route, we all stand to lose; the UCI will lose further credibility and many dirt-racing license-holders, the national governing bodies will see more, and more credible competition to their monopolies, and the racers will lose their freedom to choose and to race the best possible selection of events they can. Let’s hope this is the last we hear of it…