Patrice Clerc (ASO): "Sport before all."

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04.04.2008/ In tomorrows edition of French daily newspaper 'Le Monde' ASO president Patrice Clerc will publish a column about the ongoing conflict with the UCI and the future of cycling.


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 2008

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.

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