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The UCI - The Empire Strikes Back?

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4/9/2013 12:32 PM

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far far away, the UCI decided to enforce a rule that prohibits UCI licensed riders from participating in non-sanctioned races and events.

This means that every Pro racer will now have to choose between racing sanctioned and non-sanctioned events. A violation could mean being fined, suspended, or even the revocation of their UCI licenses. In other words, all Pro athletes that choose to hold a UCI license are to be barred from attending events like the Enduro World Series, Teva Games, Downieville, Whiskey 50, Fontana, Oregon Enduros, Winter Park's local series, Breck Epic, Firecracker, or even Crankworx for that matter.

Needless to say, this has gone down like a lead balloon. If you have an opinion on the matter, leave a comment here. We will also use this thread to keep you up to date with reactions from around the industry (feel free to post up any links you find as well).

4/9/2013 12:37 PM

Sho-Air Cannondale are the first team to openly speak out and take action against the enforcement of this rule. They will be sending a full squad of riders to the Whiskey 50, and have told the UCI what they think about their rule in no uncertain terms:

Sho-Air International Addresses UCI/USAC “Forbidden Race” Ruling

4/9/2013 12:40 PM

Multiple World Champion 4X rider Anneke Beerten had the following to say on her twitter feed:

"Dear @UCI_cycling I do NOT like it that you tell me what I can & cant race. I have a passion for racing but NOT for your politics!!"

4/9/2013 12:56 PM

Heather Irmiger (who has left XC to focus on the Enduro World Series this year) offered the following insights on her Facebook page:

"It will be interesting to see how this all pans this point, the petition is a good start. I didn't take out a license which is also a bit of a "protest" - but pros who aren't planning to focus their career on non-sanctioned events and Enduros have a big fight ahead. I plan to support organizations, like Enduro World Series who have the interest of the athletes in mind. The UCI and USAC are motivated by the politics and financial issues that present themselves when the athletes become pawns of the Olympic Committee. I could go on...this is a pretty complicated issue that runs deep."

4/9/2013 12:57 PM

I've been following all of the blow-back on Twitter and facebook (and forums to a degree) and I am very pleased that pros and industry folk alike have stood their ground so firmly. It's about time riders and the actual people involved had a real say in how the show goes on. It's amazing the support everyone is giving each other in response to this idiocracy that has made the foolish rules. Go team.

4/9/2013 12:58 PM

Do you want to help prop up a bunch of kooks who seem determined to control the sport at all costs?

If so, race only affiliated races and pay your fees. Otherwise, keep doing what you do.

Mountainbiking doesn't NEED the UCI. Mountain-bike organisations bow to their BS demands on a day-to-day basis, and for what? Just so we can watch a bunch of lactic turkeys race around a convoluted cross-country course every four years for a shiny medal?

It's not mountain-biking. Not even close.

Screw that. The industry needs to say "no more", and as consumers we need to support the companies doing this.

4/9/2013 2:00 PM

I think it's a bit ridiculous that the UCI is placing these regulations on sponsored riders and limiting them to only UCI approved events. Many of these "pro" racers make a living off of racing and there are quite a lot of racing where dollars are at stake that aren't UCI sanctioned events. For the UCI to do this, they are effectively taking money out of athletes pockets, and potentially taking more out of their pockets by means of fines if they decided to participate in these races anyway.

How do professional riders get to where they are? They have to race numerous local races (that aren't UCI events) and get stronger and better. How do professional riders maintain fitness in the start of the season? They participate in local races to get the power back in their legs. It just doesn't make any sense that the UCI expects the world to only participate in their meager offerings.

Who wants to make robot costumes?

4/9/2013 4:43 PM

This is amazing...

4/9/2013 4:51 PM

down with UCI fascism

4/9/2013 5:34 PM

Stuff the UCI, I run a DH development team here in NZ, how the hell are my riders supposed to get to a competitive level with the rest of the world if they cant get race time in? there are only 6 ish sanctioned dh races here in NZ each race season as it is, and they ran at a huge loss ($30k) due to paying for uci commissaries and all the other requirements forced on them to be eligible. Worse than that, due to the over spending in cycling ($250k over budget) there is no longer anything left for bikenz to put towards the NZ team for Worlds.
If they think they are stopping us from racing outside of their grasp they are mistaken, there are plenty of other high profile races we can use to please our sponsors and compete with the rest of the world. I'll cut up my UCI license before bowing to these bullshite bully boy tactics.
Wont be hard to run a nationals type race series without the uci or susidiaries being involved as we already have a number of smaller race series to model it off

4/9/2013 5:36 PM

I'll go so far as to say FUCK THE UCI AND USAC! They obviously care more about their pocket books than the riders that they supposedly represent. Feel free to edit me powers that be.

4/9/2013 8:28 PM

This is soooooo dumb this is going to lead to the collapse of the UCI DH world for some, everyone is racing enduro. And how are the pros gunna find money to get hammered at Crankworx if they cant win some money. The whole thing is dumb in everyones mind the UCI is just going through menopause, lets just let it die! and come back in 3-5 years and start over and do it right.

4/9/2013 9:15 PM

Good on Sho-Air. I hope many more top tier athletes and teams follow suit.

4/9/2013 9:38 PM


4/10/2013 12:51 AM

Here's a bold new initiative, people are setting out to make a difference - who knows what it might all lead to? The Mountain Bike Sport Organization is looking to become an alternate federating entity...:

Mountain Bike Sport Organization - MTBSO

4/10/2013 12:58 AM

See also

4/10/2013 2:20 AM

Cycling News have spoken to the USAC about this issue, the following is from their website
(the UCI has elected not to answer the questions...):

Cyclingnews: Earlier in 2013, USA Cycling told Cyclingnews: "It is important to note that the only riders that are affected are riders that have registered with the UCI on a UCI team. This does not affect mountain bike pro riders who are NOT on UCI-registered teams."

However, the UCI letter USAC shared on Friday, April 5 from the UCI said, "Article 1.2.019 applies to all licence holders, without exception. It does not solely concern professional riders or just the members of UCI teams, contrary to certain statements in the press and on some blogs."

Why the change in interpretation? In light of the March 26th letter, will USA Cycling enforce the rules against all riders in 2013 or just the riders on UCI-registered teams? Will it apply to unsanctioned races that have already happened in 2013 or just those going forward?

USA Cycling: Some teams and riders complained to the UCI after USA Cycling's interpretation of rule 1.2.019 was sent to the American UCI-registered teams earlier this year. The UCI then sent an email to USA Cycling confirming that rule 1.2.019 applied to ALL UCI licensees.

The UCI also read articles and blogs where riders and others were quoted as saying that other countries were not going to enforce rule 1.2.019 and that USA Cycling was unilaterally and unnecessarily enforcing this rule. Many of those articles and blogs were also incorrect in saying that USA Cycling could grant exceptions to allow riders to compete in non-USA Cycling sanctioned events if it chose to.

In order to clear up any confusion surrounding rule 1.2.019 and to explain what events might be considered an exception, the UCI sent a letter to ALL national federations on March 26 to clarify the rule and their expectations on its enforcement. This will rule apply to all UCI licensees from this point forward. And UCI licensees cannot compete in unsanctioned events that don't meet UCI's very limited exception language. So, contrary to what has been stated and written, USA Cycling can't provide exceptions at will to events that don't meet UCI's criteria.

CN: What does USAC say to its licensed riders who are not members of UCI registered teams and have already registered for non-sanctioned events and made travel plans to them based on the earlier interpretation? Some of those riders say they have emails from earlier this year from USAC confirming it is ok for them to participate in non-sanctioned events.

USAC: They should contact us, we will honor any such earlier confirmations.

CN: How has USAC responded (or how will it respond) to rider requests and petitions against this rule and the call for participation in a meeting at Sea Otter and/or for appealing to the UCI for a rules change?

USAC: Rule 1.2.019 is a UCI rule mandated for all riders who have taken out a UCI license who have agreed to abide by UCI rules and for all UCI recognized national federations to enforce. This is not a USA Cycling rule and USA Cycling has no power to change the rule; so a meeting to discuss a UCI rule change with USA Cycling would be unproductive.

That said, riders are encouraged to contact the UCI to discuss potential rule changes. The UCI has a mountain bike commission and an athletes’ commission on which American [mountain biker and 'cross racer - Ed.] Georgia Gould sits.

CN: What does USAC say in response to the comments from many in the sport to the effect that the sport of mountain biking in North America has always included non-sanctioned events, even at a pro level, and there is a longstanding tradition of pros, developing riders and amateurs competing in such events?

USAC: There is nothing restricting or preventing any mountain bike event from taking out a sanction with USA Cycling. Our permit fee structure is fair and ensures a consistent, level playing field and that events will be run under familiar rules and regulations. When compared to similar products, our insurance is second to none and priced below today's market.

The only reasons not to sanction an event with USA Cycling are if the organizer is: 1) under-insuring the volunteers and/or participants, 2) avoiding the requirement to have USA Cycling licensed officials at the event and the athlete protection policies they enforce or 3) avoiding the USA Cycling RaceClean program.

Some of the mountain bike events that haven't been sanctioned by USA Cycling in the past are boasting significant prize lists, so the USA Cycling permit fee does not seem to be a financial burden for those events. Mountain bike permit fees are NOT based on the prize list.

In fact, the organizer of the Whiskey 50 had an offer from a third party to pay ALL USA Cycling permit fees so that UCI licensed riders could compete in the event. The organizer declined that generous offer.

A USA Cycling event also provides the opportunity and possibility for drug testing in conjunction with USADA.

CN: What is USAC's response to the argument that domestic pro mountain bike riders cannot make a living on the prize money offered only at sanctioned events in the US? Some pros have said they need to participate in non-sanctioned events, such as the Whiskey Off-Road, to make enough money to pay the bills and get the requisite media attention to get/keep their sponsorship?

USAC: Again, there is nothing restricting or prohibiting Whiskey Off-Road and other events from permitting with USA Cycling. We've heard many comments that this rule and its enforcement would kill "grassroots" mountain bike events but the conversation always turns to the pros.

This rule will not affect the recreational racer who doesn't have a UCI license. The pro riders are part of the international structure of the sport. And, USA Cycling spent more $530,000 on mountain bike athlete development and pre-Olympic preparation in 2012. Events that are not sanctioned by USA Cycling don't contribute to that development.

CN: Does the rule apply to categorized riders, who hold USAC, but not UCI licenses? For example, can John Smith, USAC Cat. 1 license holder, race his local grassroots events which are not sanctioned, without punishment?

USAC: The rule applies to holders of international UCI licenses.

CN: Taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, where does this change in enforcement come from? Yes, the rules have been there for a long time, but it seems as if the enforcement of them only came into action on a more regular basis last year? Why the change? Did the impetus from within USAC or the UCI?

USAC: USA Cycling received a complaint from a rider about UCI pros on UCI registered road and mountain bike teams competing in the 2012 Teva Games that were not sanctioned by USA Cycling.

USA Cycling investigated and fined the riders involved. We warned the riders and their teams that the UCI rule and its associated penalties in rules 1.2.020 and 1.2.021 would be enforced going forward.

There was continued discussion with teams and riders on this rule after the Teva Games and into the fall of 2012. Some of the UCI teams contacted the UCI for clarification, and UCI confirmed that rule 1.2.019 must be enforced. Again, a UCI licensed rider has agreed to abide by UCI rules and USA Cycling has an obligation to enforce the UCI rules just like every other UCI recognized national federation in the world.

4/10/2013 7:15 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/10/2013 10:23 AM

(Editor's Note, Matt is the current UCI Masters World Downhill Champion)

Here was my April 6 reply to the email USAC sent me last week out lining their position on the rule:

Please. You guys are a joke.

I won Masters World Champs last year in Brazil and I didn't get so much as an email congratulatory note or anything. Could it be any more apparent that you are not willing to put ANYTHING into the gravity side of our sport? Admit it, you don't care. And let the gravity side go their own way so USAC can stop impeding its progress.

As an aside, I'd reconsider touting the benefits of the insurance USAC offers for its events. I've had several friends injured in competition and that very insurance has failed to pay out on EVERY single occasion. Unbelievable.

Matt Thompson
USAC license holder since 1995

4/10/2013 11:37 AM

In the immortal word of GK Chesterton:
"The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected."

4/10/2013 2:17 PM

Nothing here in CNs interview that changes my mind, they both suck, and I no longer support the UCI or its sponsors, unless said sponsors start putting pressure to bear or choose parts of our sport that have MTBs interested growth at heart.

Still Dangerous!!

4/10/2013 2:24 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/10/2013 2:36 PM

The pro riders are part of the international structure of the sport. And, USA Cycling spent more $530,000 on mountain bike athlete development and pre-Olympic preparation in 2012. Events that are not sanctioned by USA Cycling don't contribute to that development

So they argue on the basis of investing $$ into Olympic development? That's laughable, not to mention only a very very very small segment of even the "pro" riders fall into this development category.

Maybe USAC should just enforce this rule to the 8 or 9 riders on their development payroll then, and let the other 99% of the XC crowd and 100% of the DH/enduro crowd go on with their business. Control the riders you are spending money on, but don't control the crowd who you haven't given jack shit to... ever... and most likely never will.

And what does this do to Masters riders like Matt who want to race Masters Worlds? Those guys are already barred from competing in any UCI event that offers UCI points for eligibility reasons, and now the UCI says they can't race non UCI or USAC events? So to prepare for worlds they could only do grassroots USAC races?

Yes indeed, the time has definitely come for USAC and UCI to disappear from our sport.

And let's not even get into the RockyRoad sponsorship debacle if they want to talk about money and funding and reinvestment into the sports

4/10/2013 8:49 PM
Edited Date/Time: 4/10/2013 8:52 PM

I honestly believe that UCI has overstepped the boundaries of what is considered reasonable in the legal world. We all know, as well as UCI, that it is these unsanctioned events that grow our sport. Look at Enduro for example. A new and exciting discipline that is undoubtedly the evolution of all aspects of mountain biking. UCI should embrace Enduro and continue to help our sport grow.
I run and manage Angel Fire Bike Park and we are all really disappointed in UCI's decision in enforcing this rule. If it weren't for events like Downieville, Fat Tire Festival, Intergalactic Pump track championships, dirt-jump jams and an obvious plethora of mountain bike festivals out there, where would we all be now? All of these experiences at these different venues are what contribute to our understanding of our sport and obviously contributes to the culture that is very much a part of our sport. Having different avenues within our sport to compete is what ultimately brings someone to a UCI sanctioned event. By killing off the feeder, UCI is simply killing themselves.

4/11/2013 5:53 AM

I would absolutely love to see the following scenario to happen:
Chris Ball, Tarek Rasouli, Chris Roberts and Raymond Dulieu join forces.
They set up an association of its own that is rider-driven and not fat-bloke-dominated and biased towards endurance sports like the UCI.
They set up a racing calendar for gravity events of all kinds, from 4cross to enduro, downhill and freeride/slopestyle/dirt contests.
They get some sponsors aboard who are as pissed about the UCI as many riders, team managers, race organizers and media are (or rather have become over the years).

And then they start their own series, in full confrontation to those fat cats from Aigle who do not and will never understand the sport of mountain biking. The UCI only has a leverage in the olympic cross country format, apart from that they can scream, yell and whine as much as they like: The do not have a leverage and can shut up.

Now wouldn't that be a lovely scenario? Once Fat Mad PacQuaid is gone from the UCI's president chair, the alternative league might even join the UCI again. But not without careful negotiations. Remember: Racing does not depend on corrupt, clown-like officials. It depends on the passion of riders, team managers and race organizers. That's where the heart of the sport is pounding, not in bloody Aigle.

Rant finished, thanks for reading.

4/11/2013 6:44 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/11/2013 6:45 AM

Just found this on
"UCI Press release: Strict enforcement of rule 1.2.019 postponed
The UCI listened to the feedback from the various groups involved and who feel affected by a strict and immediate enforcement of rule 1.2.019 and its associated sanctions. The UCI has decided to postpone strict enforcement of rule 1.2.019 in 2013 with the expectation that all stakeholders (National Federations, race directors, teams and riders) will discuss and do what is necessary to prepare for the rule’s full enforcement in 2014."

In part good news, but it also shows that the UCI hasn't stopped sucking overnight with the "full enforcement in 2014" part. But at least there is more time to get the sport further away from UCI...

4/11/2013 7:43 AM
Edited Date/Time: 4/11/2013 7:52 AM

USAC just sent this email out


Update on UCI Rule 1.2.019

Colorado Springs, Colo. (April 11, 2013) -- After engaging in dialogue with USA Cycling to address the immediate concerns raised by the enforcement of UCI rule 1.2.019, the UCI issued the following statement today:

The UCI listened to the feedback from the various groups involved and who feel affected by a strict and immediate enforcement of rule 1.2.019 and its associated sanctions. The UCI has decided to postpone strict enforcement of rule 1.2.019 in 2013 with the expectation that all stakeholders (National Federations, race directors, teams and riders) will discuss and do what is necessary to prepare for the rule’s full enforcement in 2014.

"Notwithstanding the fact that rule 1.2.019 has been enforced in Europe for many years, it is clear strict enforcement in the U.S. and other countries will have unintended and undesirable consequences," said Steve Johnson, USA Cycling President & CEO. "USA Cycling listened to the views expressed by the cycling community in America, and these issues were fully represented in discussions with the UCI. We would like to thank the UCI for its willingness to suspend enforcement of the rule globally to allow time for productive dialogue with all stakeholders to find a workable solution for the future."

4/11/2013 9:03 AM

The Return of the Jedi!!!

4/11/2013 9:10 AM

It is great that a solution has been found for the mean time, but this conversation is far from over. Europe and the US have very different race scenes, and I don't see the American contingency stepping aside on this rule. Pass the popcorn.

4/11/2013 11:58 AM


Quinton Spaulding | KHS Factory Racing (Team Manager) | Ride KHS
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4/11/2013 12:01 PM

Awesome. We now have one year to plan the revolution.

Like bikes? Hit Vital up on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

4/11/2013 1:58 PM

Plan, plan, plan, just do it, the Empire is going down, long live the revolution!

Still Dangerous!!