The UCI announced Wednesday that it has strengthened its COVID-19 coronavirus measures to include fines for riders, teams and event organisers that do not adhere to the protocol. The sport governing body has also outlined the steps to be taken in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19.
"In the interests of all, everyone must play the game faced with the risk of the spread of the virus," UCI President David Lappartient said in a press release. "More than one and a half months after the publication of the protocol of procedures to be followed, and strengthened by improvements to the measures, it is important that all members of the road cycling family remain responsible for their actions.
"Respecting the requirements of the protocol is to act for the common good. At a crucial moment for our sport where, as we can see, the situation remains delicate, it is of the utmost importance to act more closely united and responsibly than ever."
The UCI published the initial protocol on 19 June that included a broad range of health measures such as physical distancing, mask wearing, disinfecting communal areas, the creation of protective peloton and team 'bubbles' along with pre- and mid-event health screenings. Participating athletes must also undergo pre-race testing; two separate PCR tests are administered to each athlete at six days and three days before an event. Athletes must return a negative test for COVID-19 in order to start any race.
The sport governing body has now strengthened the protocol with changes to several provisions.
The provision VI. Regulatory Provisions allows for imposed fines and sanctions on riders, teams and event organisers that do not follow the outlined protocols. Event organisers will also face being removed from the UCI International Calendar if they do not adequately comply with the guidelines.
"In accordance with the provisions of the protocol, in the case of teams failing to present proof, at the latest at the time of the rider’s confirmation, that the viral diagnostic tests required by the protocol have been carried out, the rider concerned will not be able to participate in that event. In general, a scale of sanctions (fine or other measures determined the Disciplinary Commission) will apply to any rider or team who does not implement the other mandatory measures in line with the protocol," as stated in the press release.
"If an event organiser fails to implement the measures required by the protocol, the UCI will be able to take a series of measures ranging from formal notice to apply the adequate preventive measures within a fixed deadline, to a withdrawal from the UCI International Road Calendar of the event or any other event organised by the organiser during the period covered by the protocol. Fines may also be imposed by the Disciplinary Commission."
Confirmation of COVID-19 case
There have been a couple of scares at the Vuelta a Burgos this week with riders from Israel Start-Up Nation and UAE Team Emirates coming into contact with someone with a confirmed case of COVID-19. All riders were removed from the event and underwent additional testing and all results came back negative.
The UCI has made a new provision under protocol 6. Decision-making after confirmation of a COVID-19 case.
Initially the sport governing body stated that it would take ultimate responsibility for deciding whether or not to stop a race in the case of a COVID-19 case in a team.
However, according to the amended protocol, it appears that has been modified. In the event there is a confirmed case, the COVID doctor is now to report all relevant information to the event organiser, which will then be responsible for taking appropriate measures for the event, in consultation with local health authorities.
"The Event organiser shall consult the UCI and representatives of riders and teams and present them with the health authorities’ considerations prior to confirming the decisions regarding the Event," as stated in provision 6 of the protocol.
"Such decision shall not concern which persons shall be quarantined, which remains under the sole competence of the COVID doctor and/or national health authorities."
Exchange of Information
Under the provision V. Exchange of Information of the protocol, the UCI has set up two storage spaces to promote a better exchange of information.
The first storage space will be for organisers to provide information to teams regarding the implementation of specific health-related measures no later than 14 days ahead of the event.
The second storage space will be for teams to inform the UCI about the implementation of viral tests. Team doctors will use this space to drop the state of the PCR tests carried out before each event.
The UCI noted that it may also request teams to provide evidence of the completion of health checks (COVID-19 questionnaire or other tool) as required under its protocol.
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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in bike racing from the grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all cycling disciplines, edits news and writes features. Currently the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten coordinates global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.
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