LA Call Minutes- 08.30.17


LA Call
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Jump to a topic: Race Clean Update
Randy Shafer Introduction | Membership | Events | National Events

Kelly Clarke – Event Services – USAC  – – 719-434-4218
Thank you for joining us this week. I was unexpectedly out of the office the last two weeks, and today is my first day back, so Joan is going to drive the call today. Also, if you emailed me in the last week and I haven't responded, you will be getting a response shortly.

Joan Hanscom – Event Services – USAC  – – 719-434-4205
Hello everyone. We have a relatively straightforward agenda for today. I want to lead off with Jon Whiteman today, because he's got the timeliest piece of the discussion based on the Race Clean update that went out yesterday. Some of you may have seen that we had a doping positive as a result of the Race Clean program at Dana Point and there has been an enormous amount of questions coming back to the organization regarding the term of the sanction and why it was handled the way it was. We sent out a Race Clean update yesterday that clarified that, but I'm sure you guys are going to get questions as well on how this process works. This is a reasonably high profile case, so we wanted to give Jon an opportunity to address it an answer any questions that you might have.

Jon Whiteman – RaceClean  – USAC – – 719-434-4222
Joan, thanks for the intro. Before and after sending out the Race Clean update yesterday we received a number of responses from members who were questioning why the individual didn't have a greater sanction than eight years. A lot of people were calling for a lifetime ban.

Joan Hanscom
Jon, let me jump in for a second. For those of you that haven't had a chance to look at the Race Clean update or maybe missed that email, at Dana Point, Kayle LeoGrande tested positive for a second time in his bike racing career. So just to be clear, this is in the case of a second violation.

Jon Whiteman
Thank you for clarifying that, Joan. So this is LeoGrande's second sanction. Here's the way these things play out - USA Cycling is a member of the USOC. The USOC has requirements to uphold the WADA code, because they are signatory to the WADA code. USADA is also a signatory to the WADA code. I can explain it in more detail, but I don't know if there's a need to. What it comes down to is that by way of all our relationships and responsibilities to the USOC and USADA, USA Cycling has no say in what the sanction is from a positive test. USADA has limits placed on them for what they can also ask for. The WADA code sets forward minimum sanction lengths, maximum sanction lengths and a slew of other policies. So USADA has to operate within the WADA code, within the policies that are set forth to them. So what you saw with the positive result was the maximum sentence allowed in that circumstance, for a second offense, was eight years. USADA pursued the eight years and got the eight years on him. That was the maximum penalty that he could have gotten for that positive.

A lot of people are asking, 'Why not a lifetime sentence?', 'Why not more?'. We are attempting to answer those questions. I encourage you to send them to me. I will do my best to answer everybody. I've been responding to emails all morning today already, and I am doing my best to get people meaningful responses.

USADA can't seek a lifetime ban in this circumstance. USA Cycling cannot seek anything further than what the WADA code sets out. I'm going to make this vague, but several years ago a governing body attempted to apply a second sanction onto an athlete, a greater length or additional sentence to what the WADA code had set out. The athlete challenged this and took it to court for arbitration of the sport. The athlete won. No one can add an additional penalty after the initial ruling has been made with regards to anti-doping sentencing. So these types of questions that we're hearing and trying to answer, if you guys feel confident in answering them, you are welcome to. But I am here to help answer these questions and help set the record straight. So I encourage you to send any of those questions to me if you don't want to answer them or don't feel comfortable answering them. 

We are on target with where we were with the program last year. The update reported that we had 120 tests at the time of the update and last year we had 125 which is really no big deal. Last year we concluded with 179 tests. This year we are targeting 200 as our goal. We think we'll be able to do it. We've built in some efficiencies that are allowing us to do this. We've had some really good responses with donations this year that has allowed us to go a little further as well. I just want to reiterate, the 200 tests means two hundred amateur tests that are occurring throughout the sport. Race Clean also adds elite level testing to the National Calendar events as well, but that's an entirely different funding source. We haven't been talking about that aspect a lot in theses updates, because we wanted to stay focused on the amateur testing. That way the members can see where their dollars are going.

Another thing I have been answering a lot today is two hundred is not that great. I am reiterating to people in the community that 200 is just that small number of amateurs being tested. There are also more elites being tested by the Race Clean program and it's important to remember that USADA is doing tests on their own dime and that's hundreds of tests. And the CADF is testing the elite level athletes here in the United States as well. The snap shot that we're putting into the update is just one small part of the tests that are occurring. So I am trying to set that record straight, too.

We are going to be sending out anti-doping education through our social media channels every month. I would appreciate any of you to repost them on you social media outlets - twitter, Facebook, whatever it is. USADA is supplying the tools to us directly. So they should be evergreen tools that can live up there for a long time. And they are the absolute word, coming from USADA. It's what they want to see and what they want people doing in terms of steps to take or tools for finding out about your medications, etcetera.

Now I think I am done. Does anyone have any questions?

Joan Hanscom
Jon, I'd like to clarify one thing as well. I've seen a fair amount of questions myself saying, 'Why does USA Cycling give former convicted dopers who have served their time licenses?' And that goes back to answering that we cannot double punish people. We are subject to this code so we can't just say, 'we're not going to give you a license,' so you may want to touch on that as well.

Jon Whiteman
Yeah, so that goes back to the double penalization ruling from CAS. We have to give them a license if they want one after they serve their sanction. That's a component of what's going on with WADA's code and the way they set their standards. So we don't have the option. We've explored it. When Derek came on as CEO we really looked into a lot of options. We learned quickly that these kinds of things are not available to us. We do not have the ability. It doesn't mean that were not going to continue to look for things that we can do in order to improve the sport. That certainly remains on the table, but things like not issuing licenses or double penalizing people are off the table. So we need to be more creative if we're going to do anything different from what is already set forth. The margins are tight. There is not a lot of room to play with the way that USADA and WADA have created these rules. So we're always interested in ideas that we can do to make things better. But it's strict. So that's a key area that we don't have control over. Thank you Joan for pointing that out.

Gina Kavesh (WSBA - Washington)
We just had a positive in our area right before this one. And everyone thinks this guy is a great guy and they didn't like the ruling because it was so ambiguous. I think one of the things that gets lost when I read Race Clean is that it's factual and it's data driven, which is fine, but what the average person understands - they may not understand a sentence that says 'USA Cycling may not add additional provisions to change the period of ineligibility provided for in article 10 of the WADA code. What kind of needs to be said, and probably on social media - and we can repost it - is 'USAC can't change what WADA or USOC is doing.' Just the way you were talking about it right now. We can't add extra things once the suspension is given. Most people aren't going to understand that other sentence. So I think what will get through is not the scientific statement, but saying 'USADA implements all the drug testing, they give the bans and suspensions, and USAC cannot change them.' Or something in very simple English. That may or may not stop the flow of emails that you’re getting, but it would at least make it clearer to the average person who took two seconds to read something on social media.

Jon Whiteman
Gina, I appreciate that more than you know, because we went back and forth on the language of this document many times yesterday. I always err on the side of layman's terms. We had many minds working on this document, so I will take that back to them. Because I agree with you. I think it would have been better for us to have been more generic, but there are always concerns that we're representing things perfectly and by the letter of the law. SO I appreciate that and I will gladly share that. Thank you for the comment.

Gina Kavesh
Well, I just had a board meeting and my board members were asking me about this. I said 'USAC can't change anything about this, talk to USADA if you don't like their rules.' Which they got. I understand that we don't want to make a statement that is not true about someone, but layman terms in these situations are good, because otherwise people draw their own conclusions. That's what I am seeing on social media.

Jeff Poulin (NYSBRA - New York)
I agree with Gina. Probably something additional in the statement that explains why the 8 year sanction was applied. I am looking at the WADA code here and there are a couple reasons why eight years would apply, like 'providing substantial assistance' or 'no significant fault or negligence'. One of those must have applied. So it might help to explain why the lifetime didn't come up. Reduce the number of questions you get.

Jon Whiteman
Thanks Jeff. And with this being his second one, USADA informed me that this was the maximum sentence allowed actually. The lifetime wasn't even applicable in this circumstance. For this case, the individual had another positive back in 2007, which fell just inside the ten year rule. In order for the second doping violation to count as that, it had to be within a ten year period. He came in with like six months of falling outside that ten year period. If it would have fallen outside of ten years, he would have only been subject to four years. Some of those things are in there. We battled on that yesterday, on what information to share and how much knowledge to share. And I'm hearing that we didn't hit it on the bull’s eye. So we'll definitely make sure that we make it closer to the center, where we want to be, in the future. Thank you for that comment, too.

Sean Wilson (SCNCA - Southern California)
Thanks for clarifying everything, Jon. As I understand, we still have outstanding results from 2016, and some of that is litigation. Do we have a timeline for the release of that information? 

Jon Whiteman
I thought I resolved that from last year. There is nothing outstanding from 2016.

Sean Wilson
I was getting emails from another board member the other night about that. I'll make sure to reiterate that to them tomorrow. So the other questions revolves around, recently we had a fight at the local velodrome. And the velodrome was setting their own policies regarding facility use. Now in that case, can they supersede sanctions that come down for unsportsmanlike conduct and things like that?

Chuck Hodge – Operations – USAC – – 719-434-4264
I actually addressed that with Travis at the velodrome, very directly with him. So we did issue a couple multi-month suspensions over that issue. If everyone looks at the rulebook, the very first regulation in the rulebook states that a rider that is in good standing with USA Cycling is entitled to enter any event. The issue with the velodrome - Travis and I came to a very good understanding that those issues should have been brought to us to go through the due process much earlier. Number one, we probably would have kept it from getting to the point that it got to. That's what we're here for. Those of you that have worked with me before know that we take that pretty seriously. We ended up issuing a suspension and the velodrome decided to ban the rider during that suspension. We do have a process in place. It is due process. We employ a neutral investigator and the riders get a hearing panel. The other issue, Sean, that we had in Southern California, we issued a one year suspension for which is the crash in the masters' crit. A lot of people didn't like the fact that we went through the due process, but that's what our members are entitled to. You get the good with the bad, and sometimes you get a longer process. If you're that person being accused and you don't think you are guilty, you want that process in place. So, long answer to a short question, I hope that answers that for you.

Sean Wilson
Perfect, thank you.

Joan Hanscom
Does anyone else have questions for Jon pertaining to Race Clean or anything else that's been discussed?

If you have questions or are getting questions, just to reiterate, please forward those to Jon and he will answer them if you don't feel comfortable or if you need any additional clarification.

Moving on, we have Randy Schafer in the room. Randy has stepped into the job formerly filled by Chuck. Most of you know Randy, but we wanted to give him a chance to say hi and talk to you and answer any questions in the technical realm.

Randy Shafer –  Technical –  USAC  – – 719-434-4284
Thanks very much. I am glad to be a part of this. Following Chuck's directives pretty closely, I have worked with the National Technical Commission in the past, so I am fairly current on many of the issues. But at the LA level I am not, so I would really like to get input from the different groups if you have questions about regulations or what's going in in your regions in terms of the assignments or education or discipline, please contact me. Again if there's anything immediate, please let me know. You can reach me via email or any contacts at USA Cycling. Many of you probably get some of my information that goes out as Technical Director Updates. I am always publishing information there on how to get in touch with me. But please feel free to reach out and discuss issues. If I can't answer them I will certainly find people that can.

Joan Hanscom
Does anyone have any technical questions for Randy at this time? We're very excited to have him on board. He's a great asset.

I'll turn it over to Jeffrey for our membership update.

Jeffrey Hansen – Membership – USAC – – 719-434-4215
Hello everyone. We had forecasted that based on the sales cycle of what we call our 16-month membership - the promotion that we offered the past few Septembers where you get a current year and subsequent year membership for $115 for adults, because of the sales cycle the past few years we've been expecting a bit of a bump this fall for cyclocross memberships, because we have more people that have expired in the past year. So we are beginning to see that uptick the past few weeks in comparison to the previous year. Nationally, the total race memberships are down 5.3% year over year. So we're down compared to last year, but we're down less significantly than we were last year. I'm trying to look for the silver lining there. And we expect that to continue to improve, not dramatically, but enough to help raise the tide a bit. I did give Joan some numbers recently, an estimate of where we're forecasting on an LA by LA basis. Joan, I am not sure if you've shared this at all yet.

Joan Hanscom
No, I'm still doing the calculations for that. I should have something by next week. I will have a state by state breakdown to present to people probably by next week.

Jeffrey Hansen
And to speak to that, because there are a lot of factors involved in what you guys are paid in rebates - it's not just number of licenses sold, we also have to factor how many were discounted and what disciplines they are so it involves a little more math, but we're working on some estimates. Joan will get those to you. But on a nation-wide scale, we're starting to rebound a little, relatively speaking.

I also wanted to talk about the 16-month membership that I talked about. We're hoping to launch that next week. But we're still hammering out the IT piece of that to make sure it's working properly. But what it will be when we roll it out the door is that you'll get the rest of this year and all of 2018 for one price. For adults that is $115. And new this year we will be offering that to juniors as well. In the past, our philosophy has been that we already discount the junior membership, it's half off, but we are more than happy now to extend that offer to juniors and that price will be $55. So look for more from us on that in early September. And this will be for domestic memberships only. So this does not apply to international licenses or collegiate licenses. Obviously if you already have a 2017 membership, this doesn't do anything for you. But if you are thinking about buying one for cyclocross, that's our target audience. So more to come there, but that's what we're planning. Questions or concerns?

Joan Hanscom
Thank you, Jeffrey. I am going to use that to Segway into my update which is on event numbers. We want to make a better effort to keep you guys informed of event trends. So we're at the tail end of the road season for the majority of the market. We are closing down on road events year over year. Currently we are looking to be down 56 events, year over year. We are seeing the recent state of cancellations coming largely from low pre-registration. Where event directors have become risk averse, and they are looking at pre-registrations numbers deciding to pull the pin on the event a week out on the event rather than face greater financial losses. We're trying to accumulate data on why events are cancelling, so we are asking them why they are cancelling. That's the overwhelming majority of the rationale. As we see an unfortunate amount of events that are going to be cancelling in Texas this weekend, that's a result of a horrible natural disaster and we can't really count that as anything but a horrible tragedy. But the rest of the data we have collected reflects low pre-registration numbers for road events at this point in the season. Also seeing that somewhat in mountain biking, but it's definitely a factor on the road, and across disciplines - fun ride, gran fondo and competitive events. So with that said, if you have feedback, if an event director in your area cancels, please keep us looped in on what you're hearing on the ground. It's important for us to know what's happening on the ground - why these events are cancelling. It's actually very helpful for us. And we can do some outreach from this office, and put them on a list for next season with the hope of bringing them back. You can communicate that directly to myself, or your regional manager. We want very much to keep these events in the fold if they're worth keeping. There are things we can do to support them. That said, on cyclocross we are currently up events by a number of 8. That is good news in some regard. But much like last year's trends, competitive events are down, but camps and clinics are up. So we're seeing that increase for cyclocross events exclusively in the F and G areas. A lot of pros and regional influencers have been doing their camps and clinics early this year, so that accounts for the uptick in our event numbers. I will be curious to see what happens to the competitive numbers. Right now we are technically down on competitive permits year over year, but the season is just getting started so I will be very curious to see where you fall regionally as the cross season gets underway. Does anyone have any thoughts on the number of events that are happening in your area and participation trends? I would love to get feedback before we're into the heart of the season.

Sean Wilson
We're having difficulty getting out cyclocross promoters to pull USA Cycling permits because of the insurance issues. I know they're having similar issues in Northern California as well, with promoters being unwilling to pull a USAC permit along with the secondary permit that they're pulling that's more public oriented. Is there any way to resolve those issues?

Joan Hanscom
Sean, when there's an insurance issue in your region in particular, Stefanie Larson has been doing a lot of work directly with the communities that can help with that - local permitting questions. Particularly in your region we know that some of the municipalities have been making some very big insurance demands on events that involve bicycles. So please use Stefanie as a resource. In the case of insurance, it's always case by case for what each individual community is requiring. Whether it is 'we want 2 million instead of 1 million,' so I would encourage you strongly to work with Stefanie when these issues come up because she's becoming pretty well versed in the intricacies of insurance requirements for the California area.

Sean Wilson
That makes sense and part of it is the absolute cost, but the other part of it is a lot of these promoters are pulling insurance through a different vendor so then they're not going to pull a USAC permit.

Joan Hanscom
That is something that they're doing a pure number to number comparison. We're always happy to talk through that with promoters who are reluctant to take on our insurance. Especially if they have a business with insurance that may be covering all of their events. They don't want double insurance. We are exploring options for the future to have ways to work around this, but I have nothing concrete to talk about on that at the moment. But when you run into people with these issues, please loop Stefanie in. It can help us refine our product. Unfortunately, if they already have insurance and don't need ours, that's a hard one to overcome.

Stefanie Larson – Event Services – USAC – – 719-434-4217
Sean, a lot of the time it's not apples to apples and our policy is actually better than what they currently have. Or if it's the added cost of the officials, we can work though that and I have with past race directors. Loop me in and I'll try to help them.

Sean Wilson
Thanks. Sometimes it feels like we're being held at gunpoint to try and offer them some sort of perks so they will pull a USAC permit instead of doing things on their own.

Joan Hanscom
Right. And we've talked to other promoters that requiring a license is an obstacle. And we know it's an issue in specific markets where results and rankings may not be a big selling point. But please do loop Stefanie in because she is very well versed in this discussion, particularly in your market.

Sean Wilson
Great, thanks. We're having similar issues with ATRA tracks here in Southern California.

Joan Hanscom
We can definitely try to be an asset for you, but that's a particular fight as well.

Sean Wilson

Joan Hanscom
Does anyone have any questions on the event numbers? Any trends that you're observing? Are you also getting the feedback of events cancelling due to low pre-reg? Anything in event trending that you'd like to share in this direction?

Well, with that I'd like to pass it over to Chuck Hodge to see if he has anything to share from the national Events realm.

Chuck Hodge
Everyone has seen the Pro CX calendar that we announced earlier in the week. We're working on the Pro Road Tour right now. The UCI is going to release their calendar in September and I've talked to most of the organizers to get applications out for that this week. We'll be building that calendar. We have all the dates in place for our national Championships next year except for BMX. We're doing a little bit of tweaking there. That's why the calendar is not out yet. There are a couple of conflicts that we're hoping to get resolved in the next couple of days and move forward with track stuff. Pro GRT and XC stuff, we've inscribed all those events. That calendar will be coming out shortly. Again, we're looking internationally now as other federations submit events we may make tweaks and move stuff around. On the PRT and the discussion with the National Association of Pro Race Directors and some of the teams, we are looking to open that up a bit more this year. Last year you may recall, we really tightened that calendar up. We took a lot of races off of it. This year we've managed to keep a good flow. Looking back at last year, it was a good experiment but we've been asked by most of the parties involved to open that. So if you do have organizers interested, I am happy to discuss what's needed based on their event and chat with them about getting on that calendar. And again, we'll probably be announcing that at the end of September. That's my update.

Joan Hanscom
Does anyone else have anything they'd like to bring up for discussion today?

JD Bilodeau (NEBRA - New England)
This is for Chuck. What sort of promotion/publicity is there going to be for the American Cyclocross Calendar?

Chuck Hodge
There's three races on it, as you saw in the Pro CX calendar - they should have been listed on there. We are going to ask Peloton Sports to do an update on those races as they happen. We obviously won't be attending those events, we're going to the C1s, but we will be providing some updates.

JD Bilodeau
Great, thank you.

Steve Rosefield (NCNCA - Northern California)
Chuck, did I hear you say that you will have the 2018 National Championships on the road in the next week?

Chuck Hodge
Yes, so road we're basically done with. I'll be frank with you guys, we've been looking at trying to split junior track up. As an example, putting the 17-18 category with the elite track. That was proposed by the Sport Committee. We have been discussing that. Tom Mahoney went in and entered the permits as place holders and someone saw it and of course I got 30 emails yesterday, so we're working through that. None of it was final anyway. masters Road, Steve, as well - we may just add a day to. With that we're working with US Para to include Para Nationals with that. And those discussions have been ongoing. We've got the dates. I'd be happy to share them with you if you want to drop me a note. I am just trying not to send all this out publically before it's finalized.

Steve Rosefield 
OK, I'll do that. Any possibility you will eventually get a year in between and get in front of this so people can plan other things?

Chuck Hodge
We're looking two years out on the bid process. I know this is one of your issues. As an example, with road national championships we are somewhat dependent on the organizing committee, what Fort Gordon is doing in regards to scheduling, what the county is doing as far as construction and we're working to push that out further, but it's not going to be a two-year process.

Steve Rosefield 
OK, thank you.

Joan Hanscom
Any other questions?
Kelly do you have the date of our next call?

Kelly Clarke
It is September 27th.

Joan Hanscom
Fantastic. Thank you all for joining us today. We look forward to the next call. Have a great Labor Day weekend.

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