New Rules for Cycling Federations

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10/31/2011| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
Sometimes obvious rules need to be laid down in order to run a sporting federation. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Sometimes obvious rules need to be laid down in order to run a sporting federation. Photo Fotoreporter Sirotti.

New Rules for Cycling Federations

Sometimes obvious rules need to be laid down in order to run a sporting federation.

Every sport has a governing body - which makes sense. There needs to be an organization that determines the rules, coordinate events, develops/grows the sport and markets it to the general public. A federation is a sporting necessity if it is part of the Olympic Games. The obvious reason is that there needs to be a code of conduct for that sport to mirror the Olympic motto, "Citius, Altius, Fortius" - Swifter, Higher, Stronger.

Besides promoting the sport and sanctioning events it must also police its members - which can be a tricky situation. In the case of cycling - a federation's goal is to market the sport in a positive manner and encourage people to take up the sport as it will (hopefully) lead to more members in the organization (more money) and attract sponsors (more money). This is not a unique business strategy for any sporting federations. But what happens when something occurs that might shine a bad light onto the sport?

Ideally the federation would want to investigate the issue whether it is doping or any other type of cheating. From there it would determine a suitable punishment and then problem solved. However, a suitable punishment could cause the sport some grief which translates to bad press, which then means loss of funds. No one wants that.

I'm not suggesting that presidents of sport federations are the 1% and we need to grab our tents, organize drum circles and occupy Aigle, Switzerland - but some change needs to be happen.

What got me thinking about this was the recent ruling by the Russian cycling federation regarding Alexandr Kolobnev. The Katusha rider was found positive at the 2011 Tour de France for hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) and by the first rest day he was gone from the race.

As standard protocol, Kolobnev denied the HCT found in his sample was his. Unfortunately that pesky B sample came up hot as well. One would naturally guess that he'd be benched for a couple of years and we would return to making snarky comments about the Russian backed team and their choice of riders (I'm talking Danilo Di Luca, Christian Pfannberger, Antonio Colom, to name a few).

In the case of Pfannberger his Austrian cycling federation dropped a life time ban on him as this was his second doping violation. Colom was a bit luckier and was suspended for two years, but that was pretty much a career ender. Now let's return to Kolbnev.

The Russian cycling federation, after some "consideration" issued a press release.

"Mr. Alexander Kolobnev is sanctioned with a reprimand and no period of ineligibility is imposed. The results of Mr. Alexander Kolobnev obtained at the Tour de France stage of 6 July 2011 shall be disqualified. Mr. Alexander Kolobnev is additionally sanctioned with a fine in amount of 1,500 (Swiss francs)."

Out of the range of possible sanctions - this was the least. Kolobnev could have been hit with a two-year suspension. So why does one federation give life time bans or at least hand down a two-year ban while

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