Second-tier ethics

December 21, 2012

Apparently the UCI License Commission has denied Katusha WorldTour status for ethical reasons (several doping cases and lack of an internal anti-doping culture).

According to procedure, it can now apply for Pro Continental team status. This makes no sense.  Teams have to meet sporting, financial, organizational and ethical standards. I can understand the sporting, financial and organizational standards will be lower for ProConti teams than for WorldTour teams.

But does cycling really allow lower ethical standards at the lower levels? That’s insane. Some will argue that although Katusha has the right to apply for ProConti status, it isn’t guaranteed success there. That’s true, but there shouldn’t even be a reason to apply, it should be a guaranteed “No” on the ProConti level if it was a “No” on ethical grounds at the WorldTour level.

What message is the sport sending? You can’t dope at the highest level, but knock yourselves out at the lower levels?

16 Responses to “Second-tier ethics”

  1. Joakim Says:

    Could not say better, nor shorter. Totally agree.

  2. XC Skater Says:

    I missed that part, excellent point Gerard!

  3. SG Says:

    good point

  4. Peter Says:

    Totally on the spot Gerard.


  5. Katusha are allowed to reapply on the understanding that they would have to make sufficient changes to satisfy the ethical criteria, surely? Personally, i think that is fair – if they do not change of course, then they should definitely not receive a licence of any kind – as you say, if it’s not acceptable in the top division then it isn’t acceptable at all.

    • Rod Robinson Says:

      Reasoned reply Simon.


    • You could take that view, but there are two problems:
      1) If the process was followed, they were told of this issue and had the chance to explain how they would rectify it. The License Commission has obviously rejected that effort, so it’s unclear if there is a point to giving a third chance.
      2) The things they are “accused” of can’t be rectified (easily). Past doping cases? Can’t sweep those under the carpet (we don’t do that anymore in cycling). Lack of an anti-doping culture? That’s a tough one to prove either way.

      Understand that my point is not whether or not their exclusion is warranted, and in fact I think they stand a fairly good chance at CAS. It’s merely the process.


  6. [...] Vroomen raises a very good point on his blog that others have mentioned on Twitter in recent days too: if the Katusha team is rejected from the [...]

  7. Skippy Says:

    WHY did ” UCIless ” publish in November that they had Achieved the requirements for 2013 ?

    There is more to this ” CONSPIRACY “than is apparently put out by this pathetic excuse !

    Time there was a change in AIGLE ! Tar & feather , phat & heinous , so that the Racers can be led by ” responsible officials , untainted by controversy !

  8. Nick Says:

    From an ethical and administrative standpoint this makes absolute sense: you either are ethical enough to race or not. The one thing I wonder about is the riders. It seems like this would put in a hard place where they sign for a team only to find in one or two years that the UCI is now actually enforcing standards and so their team is no longer allowed to compete.This would encourage riders not to sign up for shady teams (cough*SaxoTinkoff*cough) which might also create sea change, but in general it seems like the riders would face the majority of the consequences. What would be solutions for them?


    • It’s not just riders who are taking a hit, also the sponsors. Not so much in the case of Katusha maybe, but for teams with normal commercial sponsors, being labeled unethical and potentially losing your license is less than ideal.

      However, that also offers the solution. If the sponsors are OK and the riders are OK (and maybe staff too) and it is just a matter of the management company and some of the management not being up to par on the ethical front, then it would be fairly easy to transfer all those riders and sponsors into a new management entity. Again, it won’t be so easy in this case since this team is so intertwined with the Russian federation and even the UCI itself, but in general that could be done. Just find a caretaker management team and off you go.

  9. Leo Says:

    This IS the UCI, right? So “ethical” criteria is clearly an oxymoron. It’s a smokescreen for imperious ungrounded whims of the directors with an unofficial agenda. Clearly some Spaniard had to pay for Sky’s failure to podium the Vuelta, and Contador was still under punishment and Valverde just back, so Purito’s turn in the Britphile barrel at Pat’s UCI. Stranger things have happened…

  10. larryatcycleitalia Says:

    A new definition of insanity – expecting anything the current regime at UCI does to make sense. I’m wondering if the house can be cleaned or must it be demolished and rebuilt?

  11. Rod Says:

    It is odd, indeed. And does nothing to improve the notion that the UCI licensing processes are filled with conflicts of interest (see race promotion and riders agents) and back-room deals.

    RusVelo is out of a license, too.

    The text describing the ethical requirements for World Tour and Conti teams is identical.

    Makarov must be seething right now.

  12. Natty Says:

    Katusha fails to qualify for a licence due to ethical concerns over past events and current culture within the team, yet Astana raise nary an eyebrow?

    There seems to be liberal flexibility in the application of “ethical standards” by the UCI. Then again, if the ‘standards’ and criteria are not published (publicly), it’s difficult to know.


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