Road

USA Cycling risks suspension by UCI over race-radio decision

When the French Cycling Federation sanctioned Paris-Nice 2008, in violation of UCI rules, the UCI fined and suspended the French governing body for six months. After its March 11 decision to allow the use of in-race radios in National Racing Calendar events, USA Cycling could be facing a similar fate.

When the French Cycling Federation sanctioned Paris-Nice 2008, in violation of UCI rules, the UCI fined and suspended the French governing body for six months. After its March 11 decision to allow the use of in-race radios in National Racing Calendar events, USA Cycling could be facing a similar fate.

The UCI confirmed Monday that it sent a letter of reprimand to USA Cycling. The letter can be assumed to iterate the UCI’s position on breaches of its regulations — including the “in race communications” rule (see box) — just as it did with the FFC three years ago. In announcing that decision, UCI president Pat McQuaid said the organization’s firm decision “shows that the UCI does not tolerate one of its members defying international cycling regulations.”

In-race communications 2.2.024
During the following races:
– world championships
– national championships
– men elite, class HC, 1 and 2 events and events on the national calendar
– women elite, class 1 and 2 events and events on the national calendar
– men under 23
– juniors men
– juniors women,
the use of radio links or other means of remote communication with the riders is not permitted.
With the exception of the events listed above, a secure communications and information system
(the “earpiece”) is authorised and may be used for safety reasons and to assist riders under the following conditions:
– the power of the transceiver may not exceed 5 watts;
– the range of the system shall be limited to the space occupied by the race;
– its use is limited to exchanges between riders and the team manager and between riders of a
same team.
The use of such a system is subject to any relevant legal provisions and to thoughtful and reasonable use with respect for ethics and the rider’s freedom of decision.
However, for the individual and team time trials, radio links or other means of remote communication with the riders might be used.
Note that riders are forbidden to use a mobile telephone while riding a race.
The use of any other system is subject to prior authorisation from the equipment unit of the UCI in accordance with article 1.3.004.
(text modified on 1.01.02; 1.01.05; 1.01.08; 1.01.09; 1.01.10; 1.10.10).

A USA Cycling official confirmed with VeloNews that the federation has received a letter, which was described as “nasty, real nasty.” It is not known whether the letter contained any threats of canceling races.

That 2008 FFC suspension did not apply to races or racers, only to the federation, but it was made clear that if the French federation continued to flout the rules there was the risk of it losing its eligibility to compete in the Olympic Games and UCI world championships. Such an outcome would spell disaster for USA Cycling, which relies heavily on the funding it receives from the U.S. Olympic Committee.

USA Cycling board of directors president Bill Peterson said in Friday’s news release lifting the radio ban, “We have spent considerable time discussing this issue with many experienced racers, team managers and race organizers; we have yet to find anyone make a convincing case to eliminate race radios. Therefore we are allowing radios within the races we control, and I suspect many countries around the world will follow our lead.”

It looks unlikely that any other countries will follow the American lead to restore radio use in national events because the European Cycling Union (UEC), which represents all the national cycling federations in Europe, has penned a letter to the UCI, stating: “Please be informed that UEC supports position of UCI in this matter.”

Also, as a member of the UCI, USA Cycling is obligated to adhere to all of the regulations whether the races have an international or national sanction.

This year’s first NRC event is scheduled to be the March 31-April 3 Redlands Bicycle Classic — with or without radios has yet to be decided.