I wasn’t going to get into this, but it’s getting ridiculous… the whole “UCI/forbidden race” thing.
First off, if you’re a rider with a domestic licence (not an International license), this rule doesn’t apply to you. Lots of people I see getting up in arms on the internets and posting “OMG, NOW I CAN’T GO TO MY FAVORITE UNSANCTIONED RACE” are people who don’t even hold an international license. Calm down, put your pitchfork away, and go race.
Also, I realize that there’s a statement in the UCI rulebook that allows USA Cycling to grant exceptions for unsanctioned races that allows UCI-licenced riders to attend the excepted race with no consequence, and that USA Cycling, for whatever reason, isn’t doing that. Ok, sure, it’s a jerk move. I won’t deny that.
I’m not a professional, but I do hold a UCI license. I needed it for participation in the Master’s Worlds race (and will need it if I participate in any of the UCI-level ProXCT races this year). You need one to participate in any UCI-Governed race, which, in many pro mountain bikers’ situations (Amanda Carey’s last couple of years racing NUE is a shining example), means that you may only go to non-sanctioned MTB races, but then compete in UCI-sanctioned cyclocross races. On the other hand, you may be a World Cup level rider (like Amanda’s teammate, Krista Park) . Either way, if you’re served with a 1 month ban for an unsanctioned race, you could potentially miss out on the UCI-level races.
So, lets get into the meat of the issue here.
USA Cycling is following the rules handed down to them by the UCI. If you’re living the dream of being a pro cyclist, you’re incredibly lucky, gifted, and hard-working. You also have to follow the rules that govern your profession. If choosing your races based on sanctioning body is the WORST thing that ever happens to you in your career, do you realize how much better you still have it over the 99.9% or people who can’t be professional cyclists?
If your livelihood is soooooo harmed by this rule, you could always find a 9-5 job that isn’t governed by USAC. It’s like a long-haul trucker whose employer speed-governs his truck at 65 mph. Sure, he could make more money and haul more loads if he could go 70, but he is paid to follow his employers rules, and that one, as much as he hates it, it one he has to follow. I’m fighting and training as hard as I possibly can to even get a taste of “pro” cycling. I’d sell my freaking SOUL to have your job. If getting even the smallest of paychecks because I’m awesome at riding a bike meant that I had to abide by some rules I didn’t agree with, then WHO CARES, I’M A PRO CYCLIST AND THAT MAKES ME REALLY HAPPY!!!
If you’re not pro, but you happen to have a UCI License, then you have to just deal with it. Until you get a paycheck, this is an expensive hobby. One that’s got its own set of rules. Pick and choose your races so that you’re not “banned” from competition if your “A” race of the season happens to be a USA-Cycling sanctioned race. That’s what I’m facing. It sucks, but it’s not the end of the world.
One of the big issues I see is that USA Cycling hasn’t said how, when, and at what level they plan on enforcing the rule. Are they googling every rider on the roster at sanctioned races to make sure that all of the ones holding a UCI license are “eligible”? Probably not. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, are they leaving it up to the competitors? In other words, if I race the Sun Valley Enduro (non-sanctioned) the weekend before Marathon Nationals (which uses part of the same course), then win Marathon Nationals, is it up to someone who I beat to protest to the officials that I did something illegal the weekend before and should be disqualified?
Because, let’s face it… the best training for a race is racing. If the ladies I beat at Marathon Natz follow the rules and don’t race the previous weekend’s enduro, then I gained an advantage over them by breaking the rules and racing an unsanctioned race. On the darker side of things, unsanctioned races have no doping controls. You could be full-on positive for PEDs in those competitions. I can see that as one of USA Cycling’s incredibly short list of legitimate reasons for wanting their thumb on all of the racing in the US.
Also along the lines of enforcement, not only is it unclear as to how USA Cycling plans on “finding” riders who break the rules, it’s also unclear as to how they plan on doling out fines & bans. Will they be cumulative (1 month & a fine for each unsanctioned race)? Or, is it just an immediate “you’re banned from competition for one month” following an unsanctioned race?
So, before you post hateful things and tell me I don’t understand how bad this is for cycling and for promoters, I’ll just tell you now, YES, I get it. I think that it sucks shit for anyone with a UCI license to have to potentially make a choice between races because of the rule, and that USA Cycling could probably find something else to do with their time and energy besides attempting to monopolize all racing in the US. I think it’s terrible that promoters will have to pay more money to get a “blessing” from USA cycling unless they want to be “forbidden.”
I also agree with the Team Director of Sho-Air, who has some very good points in regards to what USA Cycling ISN’T doing right now (copy & paste from here):
Team Director Ty Kady welcomes the opportunity to take a stand.
“I’ve been pushing Scott for several years to really make USAC stand up for
mountain bikers and the sport here in the US. This is a perfect opportunity
for USAC to support all their licensed members by giving the UCI pushback
on a rule that clearly doesn’t work with the US model of mountain biking.
However they have yet to make a stand against the UCI. As the promoter
of two Pro XCT and two PRO UET eventsin 2013, what’s even more
grievous is USAC offers no overall prizemoney for their Pro XCT or Pro UET
series champion, even though they claim them to be the “premier” US
Mountain bike series. They offer no financialsupport for promoters, who
actually do host a UCI event on their behalf, yet now they want to tell
racers when and where and for whom they can race their bikes? That
doesn’t sit well with me, especially when it’s obvious they are doing
nothing to bolster their own series so riders can try and earn income.
However, Rules are rules. Hopefully they’ll be changed for the better, but, until then…