By Gregor Brown
Pat McQuaid, facing re-election as UCI president this month, proposed today to certify team staff to protect clean riders. The plan would limit the number of riders a staff member works with but controversially draw funding from race organisers and reduce team size.
"This will enhance the level of monitoring care and support available to each rider," McQuaid said in a press release, "thereby helping riders to better manage their workload, race schedule and recovery."
He explained that team doctors, coaches and sports directors must be "suitably qualified." The UCI currently offers certification courses for sports directors. He did not say so but this programme could be expanded to suit McQuaid's proposal.
A team's doctor, coach and sports director could only work with only a maximum seven riders. This could cause funding problems in an already cash-strapped sport. McQuaid suggested cutting team size in the first and second division and receiving money from race organisers.
Organisers, with the exception of a few like Tour de France organiser, ASO, are struggling. RCS Sport, which organises the Giro d'Italia, cut the Tour of Piedmont this year due to funding problems.
McQuaid's proposal arrives in the midst of his re-election bid. Instead of the official UCI press office, he emailed the proposal via his personal PR officer. It adds to his four-point manifesto released in July.
The proposal could easy become lost in a PR hurricane. McQuaid sent out four releases in the last 24 hours, two were to defend himself against corruption allegations and to attack rival presidential candidate, Brian Cookson.
If McQuaid finds time to work with teams and race organisers on his proposal, it will likely not come until after the September 27 elections in Florence. That assumes that he is re-elected for a third term.
If teams and race organisers come to the same table, they may instead want to deal with other issues. After last winter and the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, McQuaid promised the UCI would "take whatever actions are deemed necessary by the Independent Commission and put cycling back on track." He later scrapped the commission, established to look into corruption claims before it reached top speed, and saw a Stakeholder Consultation fizzle out.
McQuaid's proposal today merits attention. Its aim is to put riders first so that they should "never be faced with having to make the same choices as previous generations." Cookson expressed similar ideas, improving anti-doping and overhauling the road cycling structure, in his manifesto. McQuaid called his rival's ideas "half-baked, fundamentally flawed and financially impractical" at the time.
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