The UCI has ruled the lucrative DerbyWheel keirin series to be a “forbidden event” and threatened riders who take part in it with disciplinary action and potential fines.
DerbyWheel is set to launch in April 2024 with a mammoth prize pot of $600,000 (£495,000) for each event. The series is scheduled to take place in the UK, Australia and Korea, with races distributed as sports betting content around the world.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the UCI said it had been in “regular contact” with the organisers of the new series to understand how it would operate within UCI regulations.
It said: “To date, the UCI has not been provided with the necessary information to assess compliance with the UCI Regulations and is thus not in a position to confirm its authorisation for these DerbyWheel events.
“As such, they are currently considered 'forbidden events' pursuant to Article 1.2.019 of the UCI Regulations. Any participation of a UCI licence-holder in these events shall lead to disciplinary action according to Article 1.2.021 of the UCI Regulations.”
According to the cited article, UCI-licensed riders who compete in the DerbyWheel could face a fine of up to 10,000 CHF (£9,164) and a suspension of up to six months.
A Derbywheel spokesperson told Cycling Weekly in a statement: "Whilst DerbyWheel is not required or intends to register events on the UCI calendar, our objective is to collaborate with governing bodies and work together to protect the integrity of professional cycling.
"Recently, the UCI requested a report to outline the integrity measures that will be undertaken by the DerbyWheel organisation, particularly in relation to competition manipulation and anti-doping. This report was submitted to the UCI on 6th December and shared with other key stakeholders.
"Innovation is important in track cycling and we hope that the UCI engages in this spirit."
The organisers of the DerbyWheel had hoped to attract big-name riders, promising them the chance to earn “considerable prize money” across the season.
So far, over 400 riders from five continents have signed up to take part, with initial trials taking place in the new year. Cycling Weekly understands that World Championships medallists have shown interest in the series.
Both the UCI and DerbyWheel have said they will continue discussions as the first events are prepared for April.
The governing body said it "reserves the right to authorise [DerbyWheel events] or not", and will assess any further information in line with its competition guidelines.
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