The recent acquisition of the official website of the Oceania Confederation, as listed by the UCI, is one man's personal picket line.
Last Friday, Cycling Australia and Bike NZ announced that they were withdrawing their support of the confederation's incumbent President, Mike Turtur. For Victorian club-level cyclist Shane Miller, who has a background in IT security, the announcement resulted in the question: 'what do these guys do?' Miller has been involved in cycling for a while and competes in masters events with some success, but apart from the Oceania Championships, he was curious as to what the Confederation had control of.
Some digging around on the internet, including the UCI website resulted in Miller finding the oceaniacycling.com domain, which had actually expired as of January 12, 2010. Millar took the opportunity to register it.
"Forty-nine dollars for two years," he told Cyclingnews of the cost associated with the registration. "It's some cheap laughs."
Miller was not just satisfied in taking ownership of the domain. He also set up a re-direct to the Paul Kimmage Defense Fund, but more on that shortly.
Much has been made of the fact that the website had lapsed. Cyclingnews set about finding out how the situation had been allowed to occur in the first place. Turtur told Cyclingnews that he was not aware of the details and we were directed to the Confederation's Secretary General, Graham Sycamore.
"We've never had one, to be frank," the New Zealander told Cyclingnews. "There was one there but we don't know who did it. It was a load of rubbish, it had countries on it that were not even members
"We looked a few years ago at doing one but the costs outweighed the advantages at the time. We didn't do anything about it."
When informed the UCI had the rogue website listed under the official details, Sycamore replied with a chuckle, "Oh, did it?
"We've never had one as a confederation, there was one and they tried to get us to buy into it, that's going back many years but we decided no, we wouldn't be doing one."
"We had another look a few years later but there was no real point. So it lapsed. All the Oceania information like results you would click on either the Cycling Australia or BikeNZ website. We are such a small confederation - there are only four countries."
Essentially, Miller's ownership of the domain can now be officially disputed if the Oceania Confederation is willing to go that far. By rights, Miller is using the site in "bad faith" because the re-direct has nothing to do with what is indicated by the domain
They can also register a website under the .org domain, bypassing Miller altogether.
"Or they can just ask for me to give it back to them," explained Miller. He can be reached via the email address President@oceaniacycling.com
The website is presently attracting around 100 hits per day, but Miller has also had the odd enquiry via email.
"I've had a few, mainly to see if it actually works," he said. "I'm not sure people actually believe me when I say I own that email address now because people assume that the domain name is just the website."
As for why he decided to re-direct the site to the Kimmage Defense Fund, Miller explained that it was about him taking the opportunity to have his say about the UCI's legal action against the journalist which has currently been suspended. He obviously doesn't have the right to vote in the election - if he did he told Cyclingnews that the Cycling Australia and BikeNZ-preferred candidate Tracey Gaudry would be his choice - but this was his own way of taking action against the system where he is voiceless.
"Everyone's had their say. They've written letters to the UCI; they've been on social media. But as a grassroots, club-level cyclist we don't actually have a voice," he told Cyclingnews. We are the 'end users'. This is me having my little say.
"The UCI still governs us - I need to change my drink bottle next year due to their rules," he explained, referring to the governing body's move to ban integrated water bottles, and introduce size and shape regulations from January. "They've got bigger issues that they should be dealing with at the moment."