Monday, December 03, 2012

Racing - Boycott?

A few weeks ago I started thinking about permitting the Bethel Spring Series for 2013. This is later than normal - I've been a bit preoccupied with Junior and, honestly, I let time slide by before I put in my official request for permission to hold the race. At that point I'm waiting for the town to sign off on the races and then I'll start the rest of the process. I feel it's too presumptuous to go ahead and start working on stuff before hearing from the town.

Plus, in my eye, it's bad karma to start work on something before I know I'm allowed to do it.

All this stuff made me think of Greg Lemond's open letter to the UCI. He says many things but one thing in particular affects me - boycotting USA Cycling. He asks everyone to boycott USAC and not get a license for 2013.

This isn't like me skipping a year when licenses were good for 13 months, and where I could race for a year without actually paying for a license.

This is like not racing USAC for a year.

I've always believed in the system, forcing change through involvement rather than open rebellion. I don't know why but that's the way I am. I told other promoters that asked me about this that they should permit their races through USAC. If they really felt strongly about how USAC should be run they should run for the board of directors of NEBRA (or whatever local association serves their region) and, eventually, apply for a position in Colorado.

Other promoters have tried to hold races without USAC backing. Curiously enough they use USAC officials, USAC forms, and USAC rules. I attended one race that had always been USAC but, to my surprise, in 2012 the promoter went the non-USAC route.

It seemed a bit wrong - asking for my USAC license (why? what good is that in a non-USAC event?), using the same (USAC) officials as the other weeks, running by the same (USAC) rules...

For a moment I wanted to say that I wanted to do the Cat 3 race and I didn't have a USAC license with me. What would prevent me from racing without showing my license? What would prevent me from entering the Cat 4 race. Or a Pro/1 race for that matter?

I decided not to make waves and raced my race, somewhat unsuccessfully.

Apparently I wasn't as firmly entrenched in my support of USAC as I thought because I did that race. Generally speaking I wouldn't have attended an event that wasn't USAC permitted, but in that case I didn't realize they went non-USAC, it's a long time race (I think I did it in 1983 for the first time), and, although not necessarily the same one from '83, I wanted to support the promoter.

In fact I raced twice that day, paying the day-of fee for the first race. When someone at registration pointed out that I could have saved myself the day-of fee by registering online I pointed out in return that I would give more money to the promoter by registering on the day of the race.

Therefore that's what I generally do.

So anyway, that's sort of my thoughts on USAC vs non-USAC in a nutshell. I prefer USAC races, I generally don't do non-USAC ones, but I want to support the good people behind the races first and foremost.

This brings the topic back on track, to the Lemond's boycott letter. A while back I read the NYVelocity's posting of Lemond's letter, looking for other racers' and promoters' thoughts. Unfortunately I mainly found people sniping at each other. I didn't see many comments of substance.

In my family I was brought up to value the system more than the individual. I suppose it's my culture, infamous for cohesiveness and solidarity (the only looting that anyone could find after the tsunami in Japan was done by foreigners) but also known for its rigidity and inflexibility (failure means shame and shame means life is no longer worth living).

Although not as extreme as the second thought above, I still have this loyalty to USAC. To me USAC is not a faceless organization. It's not an evil board suffocating any hint of bad news. I don't know the board, I don't know what they do, I've never spoken with them.

However I do know some of the staff. I've spoken to at least three different people in Colorado, one regularly, and I speak with our more local Massachusetts-based NEBRA rep regularly but infrequently. In our conversations I've learned more about some of them than I know about some of my teammates.

There's also an infrastructure local here in Connecticut. There are officials that I work with regularly, folks I consider friends. They're about as anti-doping as anyone out there. Boycotting USAC would mean boycotting them.

I consider all those USAC staff and the local officials friends of mine. I don't want to do anything that would hurt them.

Mind you, I'm still trying to keep an eye on the prize here, the anti-doping efforts, the attempt to cleanse our sport. Unfortunately the staff members I know are sort of like the civilians in the doping war, innocent bystanders in the battle for clean sport. They're not in the news defending dopers or deflecting inquiries. They help promoters like me get their races to start on time, insured, with a reasonable infrastructure behind the promoter so that things work.

Casualties in the staffing folks would be, at best, difficult to justify.

Lemond's letter addresses racers, and I'm one of them. Unlike many racers I'm also involved in USAC as a promoter. If I stay with USAC and take out permits, and Lemond manages to convince 50k racers not to take out USAC licenses, I stand a big chance of having racers boycott my race simply because I took out USAC permits.

I, too, would become a "civilian" casualty, as would any promoter that looks to USAC for protection from litigation, for guidance on promoting a race, for a system that, at least for race promotion, seems to work well.

To me that doesn't seem fair.

On the other hand I'm a bit tired of the doping bombshells, the suspicious performances, the unfounded rumor talk.

I guess, in some way, I support USAC but I don't support the UCI. Is that possible? I believe in USADA absolutely (I was a chaperone a couple times) and that tempers any negative thoughts about USAC.

I have to admit that unlike other organizations USADA seems to do its antidoping work pretty well. We don't hear of positives before the rider learns about it. All the announcements have to do with races from months ago, not from two or three days ago.

If USADA keeps doing their thing then USAC will fall into their place. I don't see a problem there.

With that in mind I've decided to do is to go ahead with the USAC permitting, once I get word that the race is a go. I'll renew my USAC license.

In all fairness I'm going to post Lemond's full open letter. I've lifted it from NYVelocity, from here, in full.

Open Letter to Pat McQuaid from Greg LeMond

Thu, 10/25/2012 - 2:31am by Andy Shen
Greg LeMond posted this to his Facebook timeline this evening. Please pass it around. If you have a blog or a site take the copy and post it.
Can anyone help me out? I know this sounds kind of lame but I am not well versed in social marketing. I would like to send a message to everyone that really loves cycling. I do not use twitter and do not have an organized way of getting some of my own "rage" out. I want to tell the world of cycling to please join me in telling Pat McQuaid to f##k off and resign. I have never seen such an abuse of power in cycling's history- resign Pat if you love cycling. Resign even if you hate the sport.
Pat McQuaid, you know damn well what has been going on in cycling, and if you want to deny it, then even more reasons why those who love cycling need to demand that you resign.
I have a file with what I believe is well documented proof that will exonerate Paul.
Pat in my opinion you and Hein are the corrupt part of the sport. I do not want to include everyone at the UCI because I believe that there are many, maybe most that work at the UCI that are dedicated to cycling, they do it out of the love of the sport, but you and your buddy Hein have destroyed the sport.
Pat, I thought you loved cycling? At one time you did and if you did love cycling please dig deep inside and remember that part of your life- allow cycling to grow and flourish- please! It is time to walk away. Walk away if you love cycling.
As a reminder I just want to point out that recently you accused me of being the cause of USADA's investigation against Lance Armstrong. Why would you be inclined to go straight to me as the "cause"? Why shoot the messenger every time?
Every time you do this I get more and more entrenched. I was in your country over the last two weeks and I asked someone that knows you if you were someone that could be rehabilitated. His answer was very quick and it was not good for you. No was the answer, no, no , no!
The problem for sport is not drugs but corruption. You are the epitome of the word corruption.
You can read all about Webster's definition of corruption. If you want I can re-post my attorney's response to your letter where you threaten to sue me for calling the UCI corrupt. FYI I want to officially reiterate to you and Hein that in my opinion the two of your represent the essence of corruption.
I would encourage anyone that loves cycling to donate and support Paul in his fight against the Pat and Hein and the UCI. Skip lunch and donate the amount that you would have spent towards that Sunday buffet towards changing the sport of cycling.
I donated money for Paul's defense, and I am willing to donate a lot more, but I would like to use it to lobby for dramatic change in cycling. The sport does not need Pat McQuaid or Hein Verbruggen- if this sport is going to change it is now. Not next year, not down the road, now! Now or never!
People that really care about cycling have the power to change cycling- change it now by voicing your thought and donating money towards Paul Kimmage's defense, (Paul, I want to encourage you to not spend the money that has been donated to your defense fund on defending yourself in Switzerland. In my case, a USA citizen, I could care less if I lost the UCI's bogus lawsuit. Use the money to lobby for real change).
If people really want to clean the sport of cycling up all you have to do is put your money where your mouth is.
Don't buy a USA Cycling license. Give up racing for a year, just long enough to put the UCI and USA cycling out of business. We can then start from scratch and let the real lovers in cycling direct where and how the sport of cycling will go.
Please make a difference.
Comments appreciated.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think that by not supporting USAC for one year, you can do a greater service longterm. If local promoters got together en masse for a boycott, USAC would listen.

There are "rogue" promoter out there that for various reasons choose not to be under the USAC banner. Are the races any less of an experience because of it? I think not.

They use the forms and officials for liability purposes. I suspect they ask for licenses to keep the honest racer honest.

i guess the question you should ask yourself is what does USAC do for you as a promoter? I cannot answer that as I am not a promoter.