UCI demands to boycot Paris - Nice

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26.02.2008/In a letter sent yesterday to all professional teams, UCI President Pat McQuaid outlined the situation that has arisen as a result of the French Cycling Federation’s (FFC) decision to agree to ASO’s request to organise Paris-Nice as an event on the national calendar, under the exclusive jurisdiction of French law. The UCI demands to boycott the French stage race and is threatening pro teams with sanctions if they will participate in the race. Some team managers reacted angry after they received the UCI letter.

In a press release the International Cycling Federation says that :"This measure is utterly irregular and will have far-reaching consequences for all parties involved."

The statement continues with: "The UCI wished it to be known first of all that, under the chosen format (event on the national calendar, under exclusive jurisdiction of French law), the UCI rules do not permit Paris-Nice to be considered an event on the French national calendar. Consequently, if the FFC insists on maintaining this position, the race will take place entirely outside the regulatory and organisational structure of the UCI.

"Responsibility for this breach of the rules would therefore lie in the first place with the FFC, which would be contributing to the organisation of a purely private event, with no links to organised sport or to the Olympic movement, of which the UCI is the sole organ of reference for all disciplines of cycling.

The UCI will boycott the French stage race and refuses to carry out anti-doping controls: "The UCI therefore wishes to make it clear that it will not be involved in any way in the organisation of Paris-Nice under the above-mentioned conditions. This means that, as far as the International Federation is concerned, this event will have no classification and no winner, and no points will be awarded for it. Moreover, no anti-doping controls will be carried out by the UCI, nor will it be involved in the management of any tests which may be carried out under national law.

"Finally, no international or national commissaires will be authorised to work at the event, which will not be governed by UCI rules.

The UCI will punish teams who will start at the French stage race: "The UCI trusts that, recognising the seriousness of the situation, the teams will refuse to take part in Paris-Nice, as, regardless of the sanctions to which they would be subject, such participation would compromise the image and stability of cycling.

The UCI is blaming ASO: "Given that it is the role of an International Federation to safeguard the general interests of its sport from the influence of commercial groups, the UCI invites all the members of its extended family to stand by it in what will most certainly be difficult times ahead, and to oppose the unacceptable insubordination of ASO and its allies. These irresponsible attitudes threaten to undermine the remarkable efforts recently made in cycling, in particular with the biological passport, which the UCI reserves the right to apply as a priority to those of its partners who abide by its rules.

The UCI is hoping that the French Cycling Federation (FFC) and the French Secretary of State for Sports will drop their support for the position of race organiser ASO: "The UCI asks the FFC and the Secretary of State for Sport, as a matter of the utmost urgency, to re-examine and reconsider their decision to support a position taken by a private company with the apparent aim of promoting its own commercial interests, with scant regard to the fair, open and universally respected rules defended by the UCI."

Rabobank's temporary team director Henri van der Aat is reacting cautiously. According to van der Aat the race is not on the National French calender yet but he expects that soon this will be the case. Rabobank's team director told Dutch daily newspaper 'De Telegraaf' this would create a big problem for the teams "because then all foreign teams but also the French Pro-Tour teams would not be allowed to start at Paris-Nice. If it will come to that point, the UCI, organiser ASO and the national federations will have to come with a solution."

Quickstep team manager Patrick Lefevere told that he didn't read the letter yet, but he knows the letter exists. Lefevere said: "This war is escalating. ASO and UCI are not aware of the damage they are doing." Lefevere continued by saying: "What should I say to my sponsors? Paris - Nice is a race which is on tv in our country. But what will happen now? Is that still the case this year? Is Quickstep part of the peloton? This is a never ending story but I am sick and tired of it. They are screaming the place down."

Silence-Lotto manager Marc Sergeant told that "the fight between ASO and UCI only makes cycling weaker." Sergeant said that his team is not considering not to start at Paris - Nice.

"I don't see an immediate reason to boycott Paris - Nice. We want a strong cycling but our sponsor is not expecting that we put pressure on it in this manner."

Sergeant concluded with: "Only if all teams are acting together a boycott is possible. But we had the same situation 12 months ago and all teams decided to start."

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