Professional Cycling has become as corrupt as FIFA

If you follow cycling, then you probably have already hacked apart every piece of minutiae that exists in the Sagan/Cavendish kerfuffle that occured on July 4th during the Tour.

I’m not going to break down the frame-by-frame reasons why Cavendish was objectively wrong, and therefore the decision of the Commissaires was wrong. It’s pointless to the extent that they made and upheld their decision. Rather, what I want people to understand is that the decision had nothing to do with examining the incident and making rider safety a priority and has everything to do with the money involved with both the event and the sport as a whole.

After the crash, Dimension Data made it a point to have their PR in line. EVERYONE from the team, including Cavendish, functionally sold the story as Sagan taking out Cavendish Dale-Earnhardt-style with an elbow, and at first glance, that appeared to be accurate. What Dimension then did was petition the race jury (the Commissaires from UCI) to toss Sagan, who, at that point, had already been relegated to a last place finish on the day as well as his points nullified on the day.

It’s really important to note, for the casual fan, why that already was a big deal. By placing him last on the day, if he were a yellow-jersey contender, or even passively thinking about making a run at that jersey for a day, he would be out of contention, entirely. By taking all of his points for the day, it also would drop him significantly in that race.

In short, he wasn’t just given a slap on the wrist — it was more like a punch in the face for something that really wasn’t his fault. For Dimension to even ask for more begs the question of “why?”

Which gets to the heart of the matter — Dimension is LAST as a team in the world rankings. Similarly, they are LAST as a team in the Tour. It’s actually a matter of real debate whether they should have even been invited to the Tour, this year. However, that debate ends when you do some cursory “following of the money” — Dimension Data is a primary sponsor for the Tour this year.

It’s about the money. Dimension really had no business asking for the disqualifiaction of Sagan on a competitive level, but they are tossing around money in the World Tour and in this event, which gives them all the leverage that they need to ask; as well as get what they ask for.

There’s a word for that situation, particularly in sports: corruption.

…and that is not “point shaving” corruption, or having a home plate umpire calling a tighter strike-zone corruption. This is full-on FIFA-giving-Qatar-and-Russia-the-World-Cup corruption.

Many of you are probably thinking that I have a tin-foil hat on: “What gain could the sport get from disqualifying its biggest star?”

Aside from stripping Sagan of his title and all but ensuring that a Western European rider would get it (don’t get indignant — you are only fooling yourself if you believe that professional cycling doesn’t have a streak of “ethnocentrism” running deep in it)?

Well, that question is not even relevant. The question implies that the parties involved actually care about the sport. They care about money, and nothing else — which is precisely why this decision is why I am no longer watching the Tour.

If the UCI actually cared about the sport, they would have allowed Sagan to plead his case to the race jury. There would be a union for the athletes, not simply for these sort of occurences, but to address the reality that the average cyclist is making bullshit money (a little history lesson — the reason why Lance got away with what he did at the Tour for as long as he did was because of the money that the SPONSORS made, as well as ASO and UCI) and there is zero concern for rider safety.

This sort of mentality has been trickling down to even the local level, too. Go back and take a look at the issues as they relate to why there was no professional event at Battenkill this season. Even at the amateur level, the Harlem Skyscraper and White Plains Criterium, both, had issues with prize payouts and registration, respectively.

Take a close look at the organizational structure and the purpose it serves with Gran Fondo NY and the accompanying events that are now hosted around the world.

These are cash grabs. Dimension has cash, and that, ultimately, is what the decision was based on. For me, it’s not worth my time to watch something that can be manipulated so easily. Otherwise, I would have chosen soccer to be the sport to engage in and watch as I approach middle age, as it is certainly cheaper and playing for a few hours a day wouldn’t leave me crippled and writing blog posts afterwards.

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