Pro cycling is suffering from the power struggle between Tour de France organiser ASO and the UCI. None of the parties
seem to be willing to back down. But there are more strange things going on. Several sources told our website that the UCI
is putting pressure on teams not to sign crown witnesses Jörg Jaksche and Patrick Sinkewitz and Belgian media reported this
weekend that the UCI does not want to give Pro-Continental team Mitsubishi - Jartazi a wild card status because the Estonian
team signed Frank Vandenbroucke.
In a press release from February 11, the UCI announced which teams were granted a wildcard status. Mitsubishi - Jartazi
was not among them. The UCI said: "No decision was made regarding the Mitsubishi-Jartazi team (EST). The Licence Commission
is awaiting further information before making any decision on this case." According to sportwereld.be the reason for the delay
is Vandenbroucke's ban in 2002. It seems strange that a rider who did his time is punished again for the same offense. Even
more strange is that other Pro-Continental teams who also signed riders who were banned for doping offenses in the past, did
have no trouble at all and received a wildcard status. Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli (Danilo Hondo), Slipstream
Chipottle (David Millar) did receive a wildcard status on February 11. We have nothing against Danilo Hondo or David
Millar or their teams. Slipstream Chipottle even could become a role modell for pro cycling and we would like to see the team
succeed in their efforts for a clean cycling. But that doesn't change the way the UCI is handling affairs. One could
call it double standards.
The way the UCI is governing cycling seems to become one of the main problems of pro cycling. The power struggle between
ASO and UCI started after former UCI president Hein Verbruggen pushed his Pro-Tour plans against the will of many race organisers,
pro riders and cycling fans. The wildcard policy of the UCI shows that the fight against doping of the international governing
body is not transparent and hard to understand.
According to US based website velonews.com,UCI anti-doping manager Anne Gripper told the US website that the so-called
Puerto riders are not under an open investigation by any ani-doping authorities, but (according to Gripper) these riders are
under investigation by Spanish prosecuters. Cyclingheroes asked Spanish authorities but they denied that they are investigating
the riders in the re-opened Puerto case. Still this was the reason that Rock Racing riders Tyler Hamilton, Santiago
Botero and Oscar Sevilla were not allowed to start at last weeks Tour of California. Banned without any official investigation.
Although the behaviour of Tyler Hamilton after he was tested positive at the 2004 Vuelta Espana did not exactly make him more
popular, its strange that the UCI tries to punish him again for the same offense. If the Puerto papers are correct it should
be clear that Hamilton received the 2004 Vuelta blood transfusions by Spanish doctor Fuentes or one of his associates. In that
sense Hamilton did not commit a new offense, anti-doping authorities now only know who the "dealer" was. Try to convict somebody
for knowing who is dealer was after he did his time in a normal court...
It doesn't really matter if Anne Gripper was lying about Spanish authorities investigating Puerto riders at the ToC press
conference or just did not have the right information: its bad governing - you can't govern well if your facts are wrong.
But its more serious: The cases of Frank Vandenbroucke, Jörg Jaksche, Patrick Sinkewitz, the three Rock Racing riders
and many others indicate that the UCI could be acting against its own rules. Interesting that there are more and more
indications that the UCI are unofficially trying to ban riders like Jörg Jaksche and Patrick Sinkewitz for life who had the
courage to speak out... Is that part of the anti-doping strategy? The UCI is also trying to punish riders who already did
their time for the same offense and others are banned without being officially investigated by any sports or state authorities.
I try to imagine what it would be like not be allowed to go after my job anymore, banned for life to write for Cyclingheroes
without any official verdict from any court or writers union. Just like that.
But its not only the UCI who's policies are questionable. ASO's exclusion of Astana from all ASO races is also hard to
understand. Even if Astana harmed last years Tour de France. Astana has a new team management, most of its riders are new
as well. There were always rumours around Johan Bruyneel and his US Postal and Discovery team. But ASO can't make Bruyneel
responsible for what happened with the 'old' Astana and as long as no official organisation is opening proceedings against
Bruyneel and (former)riders of US Postal and/or Discovery the rumours stay what they are: rumours. Other teams with riders
and/or sports directors with a doping past are invited to ASO races. So what is the policy here?
This is not a plea for dopers or the doping system. This a plea for transparency and a call to all parties to stick by
the rules. If that's not enough to go after dopers and the doping system they should create additional rules but stick by
the rules, no banana republic pr moves. Pro cycling created its own disaster by allowing systematic doping. Not only the riders
who took performance enhancing drugs, most involved parties were more or less part of this system. Its time to move on
with clear and understandable rules, an international body who should be responsible for anti-doping proceedings, so all riders
are treated equal no matter which country they are coming from and without double standards.
Belgian Vandebroucke fans are considering to take action. They have enough of the way this sport is governed. Enough
is enough: its time for a change.