In part three of our interview with one of the three new vice-presidents of the UCI, Tracey Gaudry, we get into the specifics of several topics. While the discussion on anti-doping tends to hog the headlines, there are other elements that are worthy of attention. Equipment regulations and technical approval protocols have been introduced relatively recently by the UCI but this and several other aspects of the previous administration are now under review. This is the transcript of the third part of Rob Arnold’s conversation with Gaudry…
RIDE has presented the interview with Tracey Gaudry in three parts.
• Part 01: Gaudry’s appointment as UCI vice-president
• Part 02: The actual UCI election process
• Part 03: The future – and what will be done
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– Tracey Gaudry interview (part 03) –
– By Rob Arnold
Tracey Gaudry has been a multiple Australian champion, in the road race and time trials. Of all the UCI delegates from around the world, the 44-year-old is the most recent retiree from competition and her opinions on equipment are particularly interesting given that she has experienced what it’s like to race within the confines of regulations that have been introduced by earlier administrations.
“Much of the work with the UCI is very political,” she said a day after her return to Australia following the recent UCI elections. “It’s also really mentally difficult. Part of why I’m in this position is that it’s a massive problem-solving exercise. It’s very challenging but it’s also very rewarding when you can actually work within a system to effect change.
“When I nominated as a candidate for presidency of the Oceania region, I said, ‘I’d much rather be working within the system to realise positive change than to be on the outside throwing hand grenades.’ This is now a demonstration of being able to work within the system – supporting the system – to realise positive change. It’s a complex environment.”
RIDE: I think it will be important in the coming months to chart the changes so that we can look at the manifesto [that Brian Cookson campaigned with] and tick off the items that have been declared as things that will be done.
One question that you’ll be asked a lot is: will cycling change?
People often get told in the lead-up to elections that many things are going to be different afterwards but then life rolls on and it remains largely status quo. What is the first thing that’s really going to change the nature of cycling under Cookson’s governance?
Tracey Gaudry: “Are things going to change? That’s a very fair question to ask because we’ve all been through strategic planning sessions, and part of a new team. We’ve all been in situations where we walk in with a burst of enthusiasm and then a few weeks – or a few years later – we all say, ‘Well, what happened as a result of all that?’
“This change, what the congress voted on, was about the fact that it really is the time for change. We expect there to be change and we will be holding you to task…
“The new management committee is there because it wants that expectation placed upon it and the members of that committee are embracing that responsibility. And the first manifestation of that is that the UCI management committee will meet next week [end of October 2013]. That management committee will then cement the key elements of Brian Cookson’s manifesto under his leadership.
“We’ll work through the manifesto because that’s what we signed up to – that’s what the congress voted for.
“First and foremost I’m going to go through the key elements of it and that’s rebuilding trust in the UCI.
“The thing that has happened already is that the president and myself went and met with the management of the UCI on day one of the job. We sat down with them and said, ‘This process is going to involve you. You are part of the system moving forward. The decisions that we make will be made with you.’ That is a strong, powerful and transparent step to take.
“We presented ourselves as people of cycling who would work with the team and that means that we’ve established a positive engagement straight up. There’s an open-door policy and an environment where the management of the UCI – who would rightfully be seeking to understand the impact of such a significant leadership change after many years – would say, ‘Okay, these are people who we know are working with the interests of cycling at heart and that we’ll be on the journey together.’ That’s already happened.
“There are commitments that have been made and globalisation in cycling is another one of them. The vice-presidents of the UCI represent three different continents [Oceania with Gaudry, Africa with Mohamed Wagih Azzam from Egypt, and Europe with David Lappartient from France] and that’s a very good step.
“The anti-doping focus: the management committee is continuing on with the pledge made prior to the elections. Let’s not infer that the previous administration was not doing anything – there is a lot of work being done. But the requirement that we’ve committed to the outside world is that there will be an independent enquiry into the operations of the UCI throughout that dark period in cycling and that there will be a reconciliation process so that we can ensure that the future of the sport – at all levels of cycling and administration – understand enough about the past, and that roles and responsibilities of the people moving forward take into account their past.”
RIDE: The lion’s share of discussion about the future of cycling relates to anti-doping but there are other topics. There are some things that have happened at UCI administration level in the last decade and I wonder if you could address a couple of those points.
First of all, the promotions arm: when did an administrator become a promoter? And do you believe that Cookson will maintain the ‘Global Cycling Promotions’ concept or is that something that should be phased out to allow promoters to promote and administrators to administrate?
“It’s on the record publically already that the purpose and function of the GCP – the Global Cycling Promotion – initiative is under review.
“It’s main activation that the public knows about is the Tour of Beijing and if you look at the term ‘Global Cycling Promotion’, the title of it spells it out: it is promoting cycling globally. That is a necessary function – a fundamental function – of the UCI.
“The shape of the Global Cycling Promotions and its activities needs to address whether it remains as an independent entity, or if it’s a core function of the UCI. But the purpose and intent needs to remain: how to promote cycling globally? Does that mean being a promoter of global events? Does it mean investing more in global development?
“The whole entity is being reviewed at this point, including what it was set up for at the time, including the way in which it’s financed and, importantly, the activities that it undertakes.”
RIDE: The next topic is equipment approval. In recent years we’ve seen the UCI wanting to put stickers on frames, and forks, and all sorts of cycling products. It provides a revenue stream and it puts the UCI in a position of power that it never had with manufacturers before. Do you think that it’s going to continue under the current guise?
“The thing that we realise is that in a world of IP, and protection, and commercialisation, is that the UCI is a very important and powerful brand in global cycling. There are some things that it makes sense to protect in terms of trademarks and licensing, and that protection can improve the value of cycling under the UCI banner.
“Equipment approval is another significant area. It needs to be about safety and fair play, with the approval regime able to be effectively administered and enforced.”
RIDE: In a similar vein, the scrutineering of, let’s say, time trial positions… the UCI has all its regulations on how far behind the bottom bracket a rider is allowed to be, or how far arms can extend – many things that are largely the result of Graeme Obree’s innovation.
Do imagine that riders will now be allowed to explore things that their bodies are capable of doing and create a bike that suits them and their style of riding?
“Good question. Let’s put the ‘former athlete’ hat on. Even for an athlete like myself who was a reasonably typical biometric make up and structure, I found it [the time trial position regulations] problematic.
“Let’s just say: let’s hope that some practicality prevails.
“We’re trying to support and uphold the optimum performance that an athlete can deliver whilst ensuring that technology and other enhancing elements – the tools of trade, I should say – do not provide a unfair bias for the haves over the have nots. That’s why we have an anti-doping program. That’s why we have the WADA code. It’s why we have prohibited substances and allowed substances: because we don’t want to provide a situation where there’s an unfair advantage, in addition to ethical, gambling and health issues.
“Let’s literally let the legs do the talking and then apply some practicality about that.
“Along the same lines of practicality and fair play but not specifically equipment, one of the other changes we’ve just implemented is an extremely practical solution. We have removed the 28 year maximum age limit for the majority riders on women’s professional teams. This applies to the men’s continental teams where riders can progress to pro-conti and WorldTour teams, but has no relevance to the women’s professional scene. Well, the women’s professional team structure is the professional structure.
“Does the men’s WorldTour team classification have a maximum average limit? No.
“So what we’ve already seen is some applications of practicality. And let’s hope that those things prevail elsewhere.”
RIDE: Another topic for this chat… what is the UCI going to do about gambling?
“Ah. The interesting element about cycling and gambling is that the sport – and particularly road racing and multi-stage competitions – is very different to say, a 100 metre sprint, for example. In that event, the whole field is on starting blocks and they’ll all start and finish in around 10 seconds and there’s no interplay between athletes.
“In cycling, there are multi-stage races where not always the strongest person wins on every stage. There are situations where there are people racing for different classifications and stages within the overall contest. And so we may see a situation where a break goes down the road and members of opposing teams recognise there might be opportunities one rider or team in that stage that may benefit others later in the competition.
“It’s a very tactical, dynamic environment.
“Betting regulations are important but we also need to recognise the unique nature of cycling.
“The regulations you might apply to one sport need to be taken into context in relation to the very complex tactical environment that cycling has.
“How do we address betting and match-fixing in an environment where cycling, the tactical nature of cycling, and the interplay between teams, and riders – one of the things we love about our sport, that it’s a real mind game – how do we make sure that we don’t lose the spirit of the sport whilst we’re trying to ensure its integrity from a may-the-best-man-win perspective.”
“We don’t know the answer but we know it’s an area we need to work on so that we can preserve and uphold the great things about cycling.”
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