Every UCI registered women’s team must provide insurance coverage for all of its riders, which is a UCI regulation. The team’s insurance policy must meet or exceed the requirements in UCI Regulations Part 2: Road Races, clause 2.17.031:Insurance against the following risks is compulsory, with no limit to the total amount or geographical restriction (unlimited worldwide cover) for all events occurring in the course of the rider's activities for the team (racing, training, travel, promotion, etc.):

  1. Civil responsibility (of the rider);
  2. accidents (costs of treatment until recovery);
  3. sickness (costs of treatment and hospitalisation abroad);
  4. Repatriation (unlimited cover).

If a team does not have insurance with these minimum standards, it cannot be licensed by the UCI or your National Federation. It is the responsibility of your National Federation to certify that your team has insurance in place before you ride for that team. In certain cases, you have the right to immediately cancel your contract if there is no insurance, but it is important for you to consult with your National Federation, your athlete’s representative, the UCI, and a lawyer to properly terminate your contract.

Your team's insurance is an important protection in case you have an accident while training or racing. However, your team's insurance may not cover everything you need to be fully protected. For example, there are two kinds of "catastrophic" insurance coverages. The most common one, which your team may provide, covers you if you have a devastating injury which leaves you unable to care for yourself, such as if you are paralyzed or suffer a severe brain injury. Another type of catastrophic insurance, called End of Career insurance, provides economic and/or medical support if your injury puts an end to your athletic career, but you are still able to enjoy a different career using your other personal skills and education.
Catastrophic insurance coverage provides economic and/or medical support in the event you suffer traumatic injuries that prevent you from living a normal life, such as paralysis or severe brain injury which require you to have a caregiver, nursing, and long-term medical supervision. End of Career insurance provides you with coverage to help you transition into another career if your injuries prevent you from doing your previous job. For example, as a professional cyclist, if you have leg or knee injury which cannot be rehabilitated and forces you to retire, an End of Career supplemental insurance policy would provide a pay-out which would allow you to prepare for another career outside of cycling. End of Career insurance is an important safety-net which can help you to transition to a life outside of professional cycling, if an accident or injury prevents you from riding a bicycle competitively in the future.
There are several ways that you and your team can terminate your contract before it is completed. Normally, your contract expires at the end of the calendar year or the date you and your team agreed to honor. First, it is very important that the contract be written and/or reviewed and approved by a lawyer before you sign with your team. Only in certain cases will the UCI and your National Federation allow you to terminate the contract early, such as if there is no insurance, the team is bankrupt, or you are able to prove that the team is refusing to let you race without a valid reason.

  • I want to transfer: It is very difficult to transfer to another team while under the contract of your current team. This is why it is so important to have legal advice to help you write and review your contract with your team before you sign anything. To protect yourself, always make very specific reasons clear in your contract as to how you would like to be able to end your contract early to join another team. For example, you could have a “buy-out” clause, in which you or the new team you want to join pays a certain amount of money to allow you to terminate your current contract and join the new team. If your team is ending early, such as due to bankruptcy or the loss of its sponsor, you can request that the UCI approve a transfer immediately. Currently, the UCI rules only define this for WorldTour and Pro Continental riders, but they have upheld this clause (Regulation 2.16.048) for pro riders of all levels in the past.
  • I want to race: The UCI has suggested that you include some guidelines for challenging your team in your contract, if they are not allowing you to race. Again, it is very important that the contract be written and/or reviewed and approved by a lawyer before you sign with your team. The current UCI model contract, in Regulation 2.17.030 - Article 8.1.d, suggests, “in the event of serious misconduct on the part of the Employer. Serious misconduct is considered to include a failure to permit the Rider, despite his repeated requests, to participate in competitions over a continuous period in excess of 6 weeks or over four discontinuous periods of 7 days each, during which periods at least 1 one-day race on the international calendar took place. Where relevant, the Employer shall be required to prove that the Rider was not in a condition to take part in a race.” However, if this is not in your contract, and you sign the contract, you may not be protected and you would need to petition your National Federation and the UCI for guidance.
  • I want to get paid: Most professional cycling contracts require your team to pay you by a certain date in the calendar month, and prior to the end of your contract. Only under very specific circumstances can your team withhold your pay, such as if you are suspended from competition by the UCI or your National Federation. Again, it is very important that the contract be written and/or reviewed and approved by a lawyer before you sign with your team. For example, if the team has a “code of conduct” handbook that you must follow, your lawyer may advise you if it is too restrictive; also, if the code of conduct handbook contains descriptions of monetary fines or other financial punishments the team may take against you, a lawyer can tell you if these are legal or not. If you have not been paid per the terms of the contract, you have the right to file a grievance with the National Federation which has registered your team, and the UCI.
  • I want my prize money
  • I want to get out of an abusive situation: First and foremost, if you are in an abusive situation within your team, you should consult with a lawyer for personal advice. If the abuse is physical, please consider also filing a police complaint as soon as you can. Your National Federation may have a representative, called an ‘ombudsman,’ who can you help you to file the correct complaint concerning the abuse. Other National Federations have programs like SafeSport (USA Cycling), which can also help. After you have taken appropriate action to protect yourself and file any personal complaints, you should file a claim with the UCI Ethics Commission. The Ethics Commission representative will advise you if the UCI will allow you to terminate your contract after it completes its investigation.
The UCI and the National Federation each have specific responsibilities for overseeing the relationships between riders and teams. The UCI is the global regulator for all of competitive cycling, and represents the sport to the International Olympic Committee. The UCI’s regulations provides the competitive and legal basis for athletes to be eligible to compete in the Olympics. The National Federations uphold the UCI’s regulations, and add other regulations which are specific to that country such as eligibility to compete for its national team. National Federations are required to certify the teams and the contracts for professionals at all levels, and uphold the UCI Regulations which govern the sport.

  • Enforcing a contract: The UCI provides the regulations which define the characteristics of a contract between a rider and a team, but the National Federation certifies the contract on behalf of the UCI. In case of disputes, first consult with your legal advisor, and then contact your representative in the National Federation.
  • Insurance verification: National Federations are required to certify that a team has adequate insurance before the team can be registered with the UCI and hire riders. The UCI makes the National Federations responsible for verifying the insurance. If there is no insurance, you may be entitled to request your contract be terminated, your salary paid, and freedom to sign with another team.
  • Release of the team’s bank guarantee: The ‘bank guarantee’ is a sum of money that the team puts in escrow with the National Federation as a kind of deposit. If the team goes bankrupt, and in certain other circumstances, that bank guarantee can be accessed by the riders and team staff to pay for unpaid wages and other bills. The UCI Regulation 2.17.017 requires every professional and UCI women’s team to have a bank guarantee in place before the team is certified and hire any riders. If the team fails to pay its riders and staff, or the team goes bankrupt, riders and team staff can ask the National Federation to release the bank guarantee pay everyone. If you have not been paid as an individual rider, you should first consult with your legal adviser, and if no other solution can be found with your team, you may ask the National Federation to release the bank guarantee under UCI Regulation 2.17.023 to pay your unpaid wages.
The first thing you must do when you believe you are in an abusive situation is to seek help from a legal advisor. If you are being physically abused, you may wish to report it to an appropriate law enforcement officer as well. Let us discuss some of the abuses which may affect you, and which you can correct:

  • Team won't pay me but expects me to race: This is a common financial abuse which affects many riders – women and men. If your contract has been written correctly and follows the UCI guidelines suggested in Regulation 2.17.030, your team must pay you by the monthly date stated in the contract. You have the right to challenge your team to pay you if you are training and are prepared to race. Please consult with a legal advisor as to the ways you can negotiate with your team to be paid; if they cannot pay, you have the right to ask your National Federation to release the team’s bank guarantee to pay you.
  • Team won't race me, even if I'm healthy: This is also a financial abuse, but a psychological abuse as well. The team is required to enter you in races per UCI Regulation 2.17.030, Article 8.1.c: “...a failure to permit the Rider, despite his repeated requests, to participate in competitions over a continuous period in excess of six weeks or over four discontinuous periods of seven days each, during which periods at least one one-day race on the continental calendar took place.” If you are withheld from competing, or there is a pattern in which the team won’t let you compete in races which are required for your career ambitions (such as earning selection to your National team), you may have the right to file a grievance. You may have the right to terminate the contract, under certain conditions and it is important to consult with a legal adviser to take the right actions.
  • Team won't pay me, but I can prove that I'm sick or injured: This is a type of financial abuse which affects many riders. Every one of us has crashed, or been sick during the racing season in our careers! Your team must pay you per the terms of your contract, even if you are sick or injured. You should keep a detailed medical history with your physician to properly document the situation if you need to file a grievance. Please consult with a legal advisor as to the ways you can negotiate with your team to be paid, or to file a grievance; if the team cannot or refuses to pay, you have the right to ask your National Federation to release the team’s bank guarantee to pay you.
  • Team wants me to race, but I am not 100% able (I am recovering from injury, concussion, virus, or another ailment): This is another type of financial and psychological abuse which affects many riders. Every one of us has crashed, or been sick during the racing season in our careers! You should keep a detailed medical history with your physician to properly document the situation if you need to file a grievance. For example, you may be recovered from injury or illness, but you have not built your fitness back up to UCI-competitive readiness; if you race too soon, you could re-injure yourself or do even more damage to your body. In another example, you may be competing in a stage race and catch a virus or have a crash, and racing on successive days will make you more ill or make the injury worse, both of which can ruin your season or your career. It is important to consult with a legal adviser to take the right actions to protect yourself in this situation.
Currently, there is no requirement in the UCI Regulations which say that a Continental or Women’s team must have its own doctor. This only appears in the Regulations for Pro Continental and Men’s WorldTour teams, and is an important area of concern for the Cyclists’ Alliance to focus on with the teams and the UCI. This is also why insurance is so important for the health, safety, and overall well being of women racing today.
Doping is an issue which continues to affect the safety of riders and the health of the entire sport of cycling. Every National Federation has an officer, called an ombudsman, who can assist you if you encounter doping in our sport. If you believe a teammate or a rider on another team is doping, you have the right to confidentially report this information on the UCI’s phone and email hotline, or to the ombudsman of your National Federation. If a team officer or support person has offered you doping products, or is pressuring you to dope, you should immediately consult a legal advisor and also report the incidence to your National Federation ombudsman, the UCI’s phone and email hotline, the UCI’s Ethics Commission, and even law enforcement if there is reason to believe that laws are being broken.
Arbitration is a legal procedure in which two people or parties agree to settle a dispute outside of a court of law, with a judge or judges who can provide both parties with a resolution that everyone must honor. This is a very common procedure in sports, to allow both sides to settle their differences in private, and to properly assess the sport’s regulations and the civil laws in the country where the problems occurred. In most cycling contracts, you and your team agree to settle disputes with arbitration, and allow you and your team, or the National Federation or the UCI, to select the ‘arbiter’ or the judge for arbitrating the dispute. However, if a criminal act has taken place, such as physical or sexual abuse, or if you have been offered illegal doping products, you have the right to also file a complaint with law enforcement. Please consult with a legal advisor to understand your rights, and if the situation is civil or criminal, in order to take the best course of action.
Image rights are one of your most important assets as an athlete. Image rights are the legal permissions which define how your picture or a likeness of you can be used to market a product, be shown in advertisements, or used in any kind of promotion. For example, when your team puts your picture on its website or a press release, that is one use of your image rights. Similarly, if a sponsor shows you in a television or internet video to advertise a product, that is also a use of your image rights. In many other team sports, the broadcast of games and events can only happen if the athletes (as part of a union) allow the teams and the broadcaster to use their image rights in exchange for monetary compensation, which is defined in a collective bargaining agreement.
Your image rights are an important part of your value as a professional athlete. If you do not exercise some control over your image rights, other parties could use your image and likeness to sell their products or promote an event without compensating you. A woman professional cyclist’s image rights are in some ways different than that of a man’s. There are scientific and economic studies which show that a male athlete’s image rights are ‘valued’ by how many races or championships that he wins. A woman athlete’s image rights are valuable if fans of her sport can identify with her in a meaningful way. For example, Anna Kournikova was not the winningest tennis player, but her image rights are extremely valuable to her even today because so many women identify with who she is: a tough competitor who often lost despite trying her hardest, who always came back and tried to improve herself, and who appeared graceful and beautiful while competing. This connected with millions of women tennis fans, and enabled Kournikova to license her image rights to many sponsors who wanted to connect with her fans. Not every woman cyclist will be a world champion, but every professional woman cyclist can be a role model for strong women and leverage this to her benefit.Who owns my image rights today: my team, the UCI, my agent…. Who? Unfortunately, most contracts in all of professional cycling are written in a way that reduces, or even prevents, your ownership of your image rights while you racing for a professional team. As an individual athlete, you should consult with a legal advisor before you sign any contract with your team to ensure that you have some control of your image rights. The team does not grant image rights to you, it is you who grant the team any permission to use your image! You should negotiate with your team to make sure that this most important aspect of your value as an athlete is protected.
A transfer period is a "neutral" time in sports contract regulations which allows riders, their agents, and teams to contact each other and negotiate new contracts which could allow riders to change teams. Any contact between riders, agents, and other teams (which the athlete is not riding for) is considered “tampering,” if those discussions take place outside of the transfer period, and all parties could be punished by the sport’s regulating body if this tampering is proven.
For women’s professional cycling, the UCI defines the transfer period and its rules in Regulation 2.17.007: you may negotiate and transfer from one team to another within the current season only from June 1 to June 25. As with all professional road cycling, you are allowed to sign with another team for the following season, but only if you enter into negotiations and sign the new contract after August 1.
Many National athletic federations, including cycling federations, have programs which provide support and services to legally protect athletes from physical, sexual, psychological, and emotional harm by abusive coaches or other sports personnel. SafeSport is the U.S. version of one such program, but there are others, like Play By The Rules in Australia and Vertrouwenspunt Sport in the Netherlands. Each of these athlete protection and safety programs have agreements with national athletic federations to independently investigate and, if necessary, take actions to protect the athletes and punish the alleged abusers. These organizations exist to protect all athletes and can take action on your behalf, even if your team or federation does not. The UCI has an Ethics Commission, which you can use to file a grievance, but this Commission does not cover any incidents which may have happened before June, 2016, when the Commission was officially created. If you believe you are in an unsafe situation, or have experienced abuse in our sport, The Cyclists’ Alliance can help you find a legal adviser and help you to connect with an athletes’ safety program.
No, there are very specific rules in the UCI Regulations which prevent you from racing for another team while you are under contract with your current team. The only permitted situation in which you are allowed to race for another team is if you are a member of your national team, and the management of your national team’s program selects you to compete in races. You may also race in cyclocross or track, but only if you have specifically structured your contract to allow for this during the season.
You should always seek the help of a lawyer or a legal adviser for help in understanding the contract a team offers to you before you sign anything. Some sporting agents may also provide this service, but unless the agent is also a lawyer, their assistance may not be enough. Currently, The Cyclists' Alliance is working with internationally experienced sports and women’s rights lawyers to establish a network of trusted professional legal advisers who can offer these services to the women’s peloton.