MILAN (VN) — The UCI announced today its plans for an upcoming stakeholders’ consultation as part of its effort to move past the Armstrong affair. The early 2013 meeting will focus on four topics or “pillars”: globalization, anti-doping, cyclists and calendar.
“We saw this year at the Olympic Games in London that cycling is one of the world’s most popular sports, both for participants and spectators, and it has a bright future,” UCI president Pat McQuaid said in the statement. “We want to make it an even more popular sport. This is what the consultation exercise will focus on.”
He added that the stockholders were consulted on the meeting’s scope and that their “priority issues” were included as topics for discussion. The statement accompanied a two-page outline entitled “UCI Stakeholder Consultation list of topics for discussion.”
McQuaid added, “We must all work together to recover from the damage which the [Lance] Armstrong affair has undoubtedly done to our sport, the sport we all love and cherish.”
The UCI launched the stakeholder consultation in the wake of the Armstrong doping scandal. Two weeks after it endorsed the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency investigation, UCI officials proposed the consultation and further established an independent commission to review allegations of corruption and propose changes at the sport’s world governing body.
Some stakeholders said that the consultation is not soon enough and promises little action. A separate Change Cycling Now pressure group asked earlier this month that McQuaid step down.
Others criticized the UCI’s limited window for submitting issues. They had six days from the time the UCI launched its “first phase” until the December 10 deadline. On December 4, the UCI said it sent a letter requesting ideas to riders, teams, race organizers, national federations, administrators, sponsors, industry representatives, anti-doping organizations and sports bodies.
“The world is moving forward and cycling has to keep up,” McQuaid said today. “When the peloton moves forward you either keep up or get left behind.”
Detailed logistics for the consultation will be announced early next month. A date has not been set, but it is expected to take place over multiple days following the peloton’s return from the Tour Down Under stage race in Australia. The race ends on January 27.
The four pillars
Globalization: The UCI wishes that cycling keep up with sport’s global evolution. It said stakeholders would discuss women’s cycling and youth programs. They will also look at keeping standards high while taking races to new frontiers like China. Last year, the UCI launched its first stage race, the Tour of Beijing.
Anti-Doping: “Cycling must create … an environment that will eliminate doping from the sport.” Critics, via the European newspapers’ manifesto and Change Cycling Now, argue that the UCI’s anti-doping arm should be completely independent. The UCI said that the stakeholders would discuss independence along with severity of penalties, education, amnesty and whistle-blowing and information sharing with outside anti-doping authorities.
Riders: Several cyclists should take part in the consultation. They will help the UCI discover ways to create a “closer relationship,” enabling the UCI to better understand riders and their concerns. In order to reach that objective, the stakeholders will discuss increasing rider participation in cycling’s different associations, appointing spokesmen for the peloton, better working conditions and race safety.
Calendar: The UCI said that it wants “to review the different cycling calendars, as well as the systems of participation.” Stakeholders will talk about the points system and rankings, maximizing media coverage, new technologies and the relation between pro cycling (first and second division) and Continental cycling (third division). Touching the topic of a new league or series, the UCI said the stakeholders would discuss “proposed new races and system(s) of teams” and “sharing of revenue.”
In its main press statement, the UCI also explained that it engaged one of the world’s top four auditors, KPMG, to review its governance and the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF). It is to report back in time so that its findings can be debated in the consultation.
Whether the consultation will be enough to silence critics and bring meaningful change remains to be seen. The results will come, at earliest, by January and may not take hold, if they do at all, for years to come.