The International Cycling Union (UCI) announced the day before Christmas a preview of a new management rules to be tested during the 2015/16 seasons by several WorldTour teams before a full implementation in 2017.
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7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:35 PM

The new 'Operational Guide', produced by the Institute of Sports Science at the University of Lausanne (ISSUL) for the UCI, is designed to improve the professionalism of teams in order to combat institutional and organised doping.

The nine teams involved are Australia's Orica-GreenEDGE, AG2R, FDJ.fr, Cannondale-Garmin, IAM, Etixx-QuickStep, Giant-Alpecin and Trek Factory Racing, with Astana a forced late addition to the process after several doping incidents during 2014 which threatened its existence in the WorldTour.

ISSUL is already running a separate audit of Astana which will look into the circumstances of the doping cases in order to determine any culpability by team management. The audit, based on the 'Operational Guide' and paid for by the team, will be handed over to the UCI in February 2015.

The 'Operational Guide' was developed in consultation with the teams and will include several specific points.

  • The preparation, planning, training, competition and recovery phases of riders.

  • Rider support. Specifically the staff to rider ratio within a team.
  • The medical treatment given to riders with the inclusion of a doctor within a team specifically required
  • The workload imposed on riders. Limiting and monitoring the number of race days
  • The number of riders within the team so that the rider/support staff ratio is financially sustainable
  • The monitoring of riders via an online platform
  • The certifying of team staff


Comment:

It's clear that some WorldTour and ProContinental teams are in desperate need of this kind of guidance. The sport has survived for too long with almost medieval practices employed by hidebound old school managers. The teams involved in the early trial are among the best run in pro cycling and will be well placed to tease out and improve on any issues.


Surprisingly missing from the trial is Team Sky, but there is no doubt that it is already at a high standard on many of the points to be tested.

The majority of the new benchmarks should have the effect of making the teams more responsible for its riders and lessens the possibility of outside influence. Too many riders are still coached by unmonitored doctors and trainers outside the team structure, bringing most of those operations in-house over time makes a team wholly responsible for the actions of its staff.

Forcing Astana into the process earlier is also a good thing. The sport needs well supported teams with sound financials and sponsors. It may be unpalatable to some but the Kazakh squad certainly meets those requirements for WorldTour status. Adding another layer of compliance should make it harder for them to game the system in the future.

The UCI often appears glacial in its approach to governance but with so many poor business practices deeply embedded in the sport, a steady long term approach is often the only solution to radical change.