Patrice Clerc's column is handling about the future of cycling and the ASO
president also reacts on an interview with UCI Vice-President Hein Verbruggen on March 29 with French daily newspaper 'Liberation'.
Here is the full text of the English version of Patrice Clerc's column:
Sport before all
by Patrice Clerc, président of A.S.O
Published in Le Monde, dated on Saturday 5th April
Each week has its lot of upsets that weakens a bit
more professional and amateur cycling. Last episode to date, the recent declarations of the UCI leaders claiming that they
had “lost the war” against ASO and that a new parallel federation was to be launched. That is insane! Without
wanting to overbid, it is of my duty as the head of a company but also as a sports fanatic, to put an end to several counter-truths
born in the meanders of the thoughts of leaders that are possibly more attracted by power and money than are sports enthusiasts.
No, ASO hasn’t the ambition to take the place
of the International Cycling Federation; on the opposite, for several years now we have called for a UCI fully playing its
role in a transparent, democratic, legitimate way and respected by all. Who was the first to consider a private league and
now uses it as a scarecrow?
No, ASO does not wish to put cycling under a French
banner; on the opposite we are for an international development of cycling, settled on the strength of its success in the
great historical nations of the sport.
No, ASO does not use the Tour de France as a blackmail
instrument for the riders, the managers and the sponsors; the Tour is the leading event of World cycling and has always served
strong values of equity and open-mindedness. Wasn’t it the international federation that put the riders in the situation
of hostages during the last edition of Paris-Nice, multiplying gestures and threats to try and obtain the boycott and the
cancellation of the race?
No, ASO doesn’t remain rigid in the defence
of its interests and of its historical races; on the opposite we have never stopped calling for open-mindedness and modernisation
of this sport and have initiated numerous awareness and formation actions destined to youth.
The truth is that the future of this sport is being
decided at this moment. At last, we have to act all together and all stand behind the banner of sport. Surprisingly, in its
opposition with the leaders of the UCI, it is ASO that registers itself in the respect of the founding principles of sport,
defending a fairly open cycling while the federal structure wants to assess the “Pro Tour”, a closed system reserved
to teams having bought their right to take part through the acquisition of a “licence”! And how can we accept
that the control of doping become a polemical instrument in the hands of the UCI leaders? The rupture between them and the
World Anti Doping Agency concerning the Athlete’s Passport is indeed just another proof of its isolation.
Why therefore defend with the French Cycling Federation
and around it the major European federations, with the huge majority of the organisers, with many riders, the great principles
of an open sport? Because each year, the events that we organise keep places for “smaller teams”. Because performances
must never be written in advance. Because the riders are at the heart of our races and they are the carriers of our emotions.
Because our vision of cycling is guided by an ethical approach before a reductive economical logic. Finally because all the
actors of professional cycling take risks, including ASO, by organising events that will never be profitable like the Tour
de l’Avenir and many others, but are essential for the present and future of this sport for which we should all share
the same love.
Building the cycling of tomorrow is the duty of
all, sponsors, partners, volunteers, riders, managers, broadcasters, organisers, federations. In July, during three weeks,
millions of spectators will have their eyes riveted on the Tour de France. One should not miss that important moment. We are
ready to assume our responsibilities. The teams and the riders as well. The UCI leaders should also do so. Cycling will then
have its place among the great sports of the 21st century. Give way to sport.