“Morally reprehensible”, “morally repugnant”, “Do not use the UCI license to force teams and organizers to do something”. Just some of the responses to my suggestion that WorldTour teams and races should be required to have a women’s team resp. race as well.
In my view, these people are missing the point. The concept that UCI licenses should not be used to force certain behavior is ludicrous. In fact, adjusting behavior is the ONLY objective of licenses. If you’re against any sort of governing body, any sort of license, OK, that’s consistent. But having a governing body doling out licenses and then saying you don’t want that to influence behavior makes no sense.
Every license has certain criteria attached to them. These criteria further the UCI’s agenda. Some criteria are related to health and safety, others to the sporting level, or to giving young riders and riders from underdeveloped regions a chance to get a spot on the world stage. You fulfill those criteria, you get a license. It’s actually one of the few ways in which a federation can influence behavior.
I didn’t hear anybody complain about some Iranian dude making a salary that could support an entire women’s team, just because he scored a bunch of points on the AsianTour and those points help Lotto to get a WorldTour license. It has nothing to do with the real sporting level of that team for next year, it’s a complete distortion of the ranking, but it’s in the rules to help develop the sport in regions outside of Europe (a crude method in my view, but that’s another story).
Yet if the UCI would start counting women’s ranking points towards the WorldTour status (a great idea from @inrng) instead of AsianTour points, all hell breaks loose. And that’s really a much better idea, since unlike the Iranian rider the women don’t have to race against the men the way this Iranian guy now has to.
It’s all very simple; either you don’t want any governing body doling out licenses or you accept that there are criteria to obtain such licenses and those criteria are aligned with the governing body’s mandate.
Even if you accept that the governing body can set criteria, that still doesn’t mean race organizers or teams don’t have a choice. The Tour de France didn’t like the ProTour, so they never asked for a ProTour license. Cervelo TestTeam didn’t like the ProTour, so it didn’t ask for a ProTour license either.
I’m planning a series on the unintended side effects of the current license process. It’s quite staggering actually, so if you’re interested, you can subscribe here.