Cycling SA fines riders for … riding

Cycling South Africa recently issued more than 30 riders with a R750 fine for taking part in the Karoo to Coast charity mountain bike event.

For those readers who do not know what the Karoo to Coast is, it is a 100km off-road race from Uniondale to Knysna. It has been going for well over ten years and this year there were 3 197 official finishers. This event is certainly not a small, Mickey Mouse event.

However, for the past three years it has not been officially sanctioned by Cycling SA. The reasons for taking themselves off the official CSA calendar are complex, but are largely based around the organisers feeling they do not get enough benefit from their local provincial and national body.

It seems CSA has taken exception to the snub.

A Facebook post by Nicky Giliomee (one of those fined) makes it clear she was somewhat bemused by the fine and ban (until she pays the fine). According to CSA over 30 riders from the event were fined and they are looking at doing the same at other events. Not surprisingly, considering the general sentiment regarding the national body, most people replying to the post were scathing of the decision to fine the riders.

It seems from the comments that Cycling South Africa’s actions are far removed from the desires of cyclists, which is worrying when the officials have been put in place to administer the sport on behalf of the riders.

I sent a list of questions to CSA to try and get some clarity and the answers focussed on enforcing the UCI, Sascoc and Saids rules. The UCI has Rule 1.2.019 which stipulates that cyclists holding a full racing licence cannot participate in a cycling event that is not sanctioned. According to the UCI, and thus CSA, they are within their rights to issue the sanctions.

Currently there may not be too many events in this country that are not sanctioned, but such is the level of discontent with CSA I suspect more and more events are going to move outside the official structures.

I also fail to see how they can stop me doing what I want. If I am prepared to take the “risk” of competing in an unsanctioned event, surely they cannot fine me for that? What if I take part in a canoeing race which Cycling SA has not sanctioned? Can they fine me for that? Even if they made an arbitrary rule that I cannot take part in a canoe race, that does not make it enforceable. Effectively this UCI rule (and thus a CSA rule) is stating they will enforce their rules at an event they admit they have no jurisdiction over.

Surely their approach should rather be to make sure the benefits of being sanctioned are worthwhile.

According to a statement from CSA, they claim the benefits of being sanctioned are public liability insurance cover; trained event officials; and a Cycling SA medical policy which provides assistance to members. Good reasons which are beneficial to races

However, they also claim a benefit from marketing through their calendar (nope); technical support (in 12 years of organising races I hardly received any help or advice from CSA on routes, traffic management, event information or preparation of a safety file); and continually keeping cycling a high profile sport in SA (this is simply rubbish – their marketing, in my opinion, is worse than pathetic).

Has the time come for riders to say “enough”?

Is it time to find administrators who enforce rules we want enforced on behalf of the riders?

I think so!

Let me make it clear I do not think all administrators are useless. Far from it, there are some very very competent officials and from my experience in KZN there are some officials that are simply brilliant, and I am sure there are many other similar un-recognised heroes spread all over the country. And I am sure some people are trying their hardest but are in roles that they are simply not suited for.

I strongly believe the time is coming for riders to get together and reorganise CSA. I believe we need a national body (and I know a lot of other people do not have the same belief). But that body must be led by strong, capable people who can modernise and organise the organisation into a viable body.

With so many cyclists in this country, surely we can find a core of businesspeople, marketers, officials and knowledgable cyclists that can work together to make CSA work again?