Want to place a bet? Gambling and Le Tour
We take a moment to consider “Article 31” of the Tour de France rule book: “Betting” – it’s one scandal that cycling hasn’t had to deal with yet…
In the lead-up to the 2018 Tour, there was a focus on one element of the rule book: article 29 received a lot of attention as it relates to ‘Disqualification / Exclusion’, and clause 29.2 includes the stipulation: “ASO may exclude from the event any team or any of its members in the following cases…” going on to list seven areas of concern, including the final one: “Any… act or deed which is liable to damage the image and/or the reputation of ASO and/or of the event”.
This was, apparently, what was going to be employed had the UCI not made a ruling on Chris Froome’s AAF from last year’s Vuelta a España. Obviously, it didn’t come to that.
It is, however, worth noting that there’s a relatively new article added to the ever-changing rule book for the Tour. And it relates to a topic that the new UCI president has spoken about during his campaign and since taking over the position at the end of 2017.
David Lappartient, who is the mayor of the town where stage four of the 2018 Tour finishes, has spoken often about the “five pillars” of his campaign to become UCI president last year. To paraphrase his commentary, the five elements are as follows:
- Restore the authority of the UCI
- Develop the world cycling centre
- To make cycling the sport of the 21st century
- Deliver a strong reform to pro cycling
- Restore the credibility of cycling
“The last one,” he said in January, “is something, of course, very important for the future of cycling”.
The restoration of credibility includes several key elements, namely to: continue to combat doping; protect against the threat of technological fraud; and, finally, “to take care of the danger that can appear in the future with live betting and betting in cycling.”
It is with interest that Article 31, “Betting”, has recently been included in the rule book.
When Lappartient’s predecessor as UCI president, Brian Cookson, was on the campaign trail, I asked him what systems he had in place to combat the risk of gambling. He looked at me blankly and said, “I think that’s an issue that we haven’t really put a lot of time and effort into as a sport. And it may well come along and bite us in the leg if are not too careful.”
Exactly how betting is managed by Lappartient remains to be seen but, as he said when explaining his vision earlier this year: “Even if I consider that now it is not really a problem now, it can be a problem in the future.”
Pro cycling has dealt with its fair share of scandals over the years but we’re yet to see what the response of the UCI and/or ASO will be should it ever come to light that any “riders, supervisory staff, trainers, doctors, etc” are implicated in gambling on the Tour de France.
For now, it’s worthwhile to just post the regulation as it appears in the rule book. It may, at one point, become a talking point that poses a far greater threat to the credibility of cycling than any AAF.
– By Rob Arnold
Article 31 | Betting
“In order to avoid any risk of a conflict of interest, the teams and each of their members (riders, supervisory staff, trainers, doctors, etc.) are obliged not to personally take part in sports betting ventures concerning the Tour de France, either directly or through an intermediary. For the same reason, the teams and each of their members (riders, supervisory staff, trainers, doctors, etc.) promise not to communicate to a third party, privileged information of which the public is unaware, obtained thanks to their profession, their functions or their participation in the Tour de France.
“In the event of a breach of the clauses of the present article, ASO may disqualify the offending team or one of its members from the event in pursuance of article 29 of these present regulations, without prejudice to all of its other rights and activities.”
* * * * *