The January 1, 2014 deadline relating to the controversial UCI Rule 1.2.019 came and went without any news about it from cycling's international governing body. The first day of the New Year was when the UCI's moratorium on enforcing UCI Rule 1.2.019 was set to expire.
The lack of updates did not mean the issue has been forgotten or ignored; instead, Cyclingnews discovered that talks about the rule are currently underway at the highest levels.
"Discussions [are] still ongoing," said UCI Press Officer Louis Chenaille to Cyclingnews when asked about the rule's status at a time when many riders are in the process of planning their 2014 race calendars.
Chenaille couldn't say exactly when a decision about the rule and/or any changes might be issued, but expected the issue to be resolved by the next UCI Management Committee meeting in late January.
UCI general regulations include a section called "Forbidden Races". Within it, Rule 1.2.019 states, "No licence holder may participate in an event that has not been included on a national, continental or world calendar or that has not been recognised by a national federation, a continental confederation or the UCI." Related rules 1.2.020 and 1.2.021 provide additional details, including specifying punishment via fine or suspension for all UCI licence holders who violate the rule.
The rules were applied to all disciplines and levels of cycling, but were opposed loudly by many mountain bikers in the US, who have historically competed in races not sanctioned by their national governing body. It was an issue for high school racers, local amateurs and regional racers as well as pros, many of whom like to compete at their local grassroots events and big-money races, including certain enduros and the well known Whiskey 50, which are run independently of USA Cycling.
During his election campaign, Brian Cookson, who took over the presidency from Pat McQuaid, promised to revisit the rule if elected.
"I think it's a rule that needs looking at again," Cookson told Cyclingnews in a September interview. "I can't encourage people to break a rule because I'm a member of the governing body that put the rule in the book as it were, but I think it's something that needs some major review. The overarching principle should be that people want to join your organization and want to participate in your events rather than trying to force people into that, which will always be problematic."
In February 2013, a letter from then UCI President Pat McQuaid to USA Cycling made it clear that rule 1.2.019, which prohibits all UCI licensed riders from competing in events that are not sanctioned by a national federation, should not only apply to riders on UCI-registered teams, per a previous interpretation, as a USA Cycling spokesman previously told Cyclingnews, but to all riders who hold a UCI license. According to the rules, athletes who participate in a "forbidden race" can be fined by their national federation and/or suspended up to 30 days.
McQuaid clarified in his March 26, 2013 letter to all national federations that "Article 1.2.019 applies to all license 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."
The rule was not a new rule - it had been around for years; but the mandate on how to interpret and enforce it had changed. With more potential riders affected by the rule and its enforcement, many riders protested.
In mid-April 2013, the UCI backed down from enforcing 1.2.019, stating that it would not be strictly applied in 2013. "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."
USA Cycling had said the change came after it had engaged in dialogue with the UCI. "Notwithstanding the fact that rule 1.2.019 has been enforced in Europe for many years, its clear strict enforcement in the US and other countries will have unintended and undesirable consequences," Steve Johnson, USA Cycling President & CEO said in 2013.
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