The UCI is on the brink of implementing new rules which will limit the sporting value of riders returning from doping suspension, it announced today.
The new anti-doping initiative will prevent teams from benefitting from hiring riders fresh off suspension - riders such as Alejandro Valverde - by not allowing those riders to accumulate points toward a team's sporting value for two years after their return to competition.
The Spaniard will return to competition next year following his suspension for involvement in the Operación Puerto blood doping affair, and has been linked with the Movistar team. The restriction on his sporting value will likely translate into a much-reduced contract size.
The measure was discussed in a meeting of the Professional Cycling Council (PCC) today in Maastricht, The Netherlands and will be presented to the UCI's management committee this week. If passed, the rule will go into effect this year.
UCI president Pat McQuaid first revealed the plan for the rule to Cyclingnews at the UCI Track World Championships in March. The regulation is also supported by the teams association (AIGCP) president Jonathan Vaughters.
In 2010, the UCI introduced a new method for determining the sport's top tier - it calculates the points earned by a team's top 15 riders and factors in other team-based results to rank the top teams.
The top 15 teams automatically earn entry into the WorldTour, while the UCI then chooses three teams from the next five in the rankings to fill out the final three spots by factoring in other criteria such as ethical and financial considerations.
Transfer rules and more
The UCI is also looking to implement new transfer rules with immediate effect. A proposal to set a "intra-season" transfer period from August 1 to October 20.
Also discussed was moving the Clasica San Sebastian in 2012 to Tuesday, August 14 in order to avoid a clash with the Summer Olympic Games in London, and a move of the E3 Prijs-Harelbeke to the World Calendar provided the race changes its date to a Friday.
Perhaps the most exciting news is the possible introduction of a team time trial to the UCI World Road Championships from 2012 onward. The new event would be raced by riders under their professional teams, as opposed to national teams which currently comprise the field for the road race and time trial.