Racing Your Bicycle

AuthorCraig Forcese; Nicole LaViolette
Chapter 7
Racing Your Bicycle
In the 1890s, a cycling craze swept the world with the advent of the ‘safety
bicycle.’ This was a new device characterized by a steerable front wheel, a
chain, a sprocket drive, and two equally sized wheels — innovative features
that remain the foundation of bicycle design to this day. Because the safety
bicycle was faster, and more stable and comfortable than existing cycles, cyc-
ling took off in popularity all around the world. In Canada, bicycles began to
be widely used for leisure, work, exercise, and athletic competition.
In 1894, at the height of the cycling boom, a bicycle race took place in
Toronto. Five clubs entered the event to compete for the honour of winning
the ‘Challenge Cup.’ The course consisted of several loops around the Wood-
bine racetrack and down several roads: in all, a distance of just over 32 km.
The result of the race was to be decided according to the points scored by
each competing club. After the race, two clubs disputed the outcome, argu-
ing over whether a cyclist from the Athanaeum Bicycle Club had properly
rounded the barrel at a turn. Before the race organizers made any decision,
the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club made an application to the Ontario High
Court of Justice for an injunction to restrain the trustees of the Challenge
Cup from handing the award over to the Athanaeum Bicycle Club.1 The
court rejected the application, deciding that the Challenge Cup trustees
were f‌irst required to determine for themselves who had off‌icially won the
bicycle race before the courts could adjudicate a request for an injunction.
The case may be the earliest reported Canadian court decision involving
competitive cycling. The facts are remarkably revealing of some of the basic
 » every cyclist’s guide to canadian law
this chapter’s takeaways
» Bicycle racing is a privatized activity, but one that is strongly affected by
federal, provincial, and municipal laws.
» International, federal, and provincial cycling associations have manifold
rules that determine who can race and how races are run, and these tend
to operate through a complex set of legal contracts entered into by asso-
ciations and international organizations, between federal and provincial
associations, between associations and bicycle clubs and race organizers,
and between associations and athletes.
» Athletes’ behaviour is subject not only to these rules, but also special stan-
dards on performance enhancing drugs and the more general laws of the
land such as tort and criminal law.
» Disputes stemming from bicycle races are generally resolved through al-
ternative dispute resolution — especially arbitration — and not often the
features that continue to characterize the legal and regulatory environment
of competitive sports in Canada.
First, the rules governing participation in sports are generally estab-
lished by private sport-governing bodies, like the trustees of the Challenge
Cup in the example above, rather than by statute or the common law.
Second, it is also true that the activities of private sports associations
are ultimately subject to judicial oversight; the Royal Canadian Bicycle Club
sought such a judicial remedy, in the form of an injunction, in 1894. Indeed,
courts can review the decisions of private sporting bodies, for instance
when an association has exceeded its powers or contravened principles of
natural justice.
Finally, while it was not yet the case in 1894, governments eventually
took an interest in regulating some aspects of amateur and professional
sports. Federal, provincial, and territorial statutes, as well as municipal by-
laws, now prescribe additional rules for the conduct of competitive sporting
activities, including for the sport of cycling.
It is thus the case that competitive cycling in Canada is governed by a
body of regulations that straddle private and public law. A network of pri-
vate, self-regulating international and national associations set most of the
rules. They oversee participation in cycling as a sport, and set administra-
tive and disciplinary rules, as well as rules of play. While the regulations
racing your bicycle » 
adopted by private cycling associations make up the bulk of the rules gov-
erning the sport, Canadian statutory law and judicial authorities are also
involved in regulating some aspects of the sport of cycling.
This chapter will provide an overview of the private as well as the state-
created regulations that govern the sport of cycling in Canada. We will start
by describing the domain of autonomous self-regulation of cycling by na-
tional and international sport associations. We will then outline some of
the ways Canada’s laws and judicial system have an impact on competitive
cyclists and their sport.
sport and cycling governing bodies
To understand the complex labyrinth of regulations that governs organized
cycling, it is essential to f‌irst describe the organizations involved in setting
the rules, and the source and boundaries of their authority over the sport.
Organized cycling in Canada, along with many other sports, is governed
by non-prof‌it agencies at the international, national, provincial/territorial,
and local levels. For the most part, cycling governing bodies are private and
self-regulating. They are generally not created by statute, but are incorpor-
ated as not-for-prof‌it organizations under national, provincial, or territorial
laws. We discuss incorporation in Chapter 6.
At the top of the f‌ield are international organizations and federations,
which have developed a regulatory monopoly over cycling. At the national
level, the Canadian-organized cycling system is made up of a number of
associations that develop and administer services and programs of compe-
tition, and provide regulatory oversight of the sport across the country and
in each province and territory.
international organizations
There are a number of international non-governmental organizations that
regulate different aspects of organized cycling.
International Cycling Union (UCI)
Founded in 1900, the International Cycling Union (generally referred to
by its French-language acronym UCI) is the international governing body
for all cycling sports. Headquartered in Switzerland, the UCI is registered
as a not-for-prof‌it and non-governmental organization under Swiss law. Its

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT