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Bettini rips UCI anti-doping pledge, calls it 'extortion'

9/27/2007

STUTTGART, Germany -- World champion Paolo
Bettini has written to the International Cycling Union (UCI)
describing its anti-doping declaration as "extortion" and "a
farce."

Local organizers went to court on Thursday trying to stop
Bettini defending his world road race title in Stuttgart on
Sunday because of his refusal to sign the UCI's anti-doping
pledge.

In a strongly worded letter in French, dated Sept. 26 and
seen by Reuters, Bettini hit out at the UCI's pledge, while
strongly defending his own record on doping and announcing his
willingness to make a DNA sample available.

The UCI declaration "constitutes a coercive measure and
extortion as it amounts to a pre-condition to participate in
international races. In addition the UCI's initiative has not
been coordinated with any athletes' representatives," Bettini
wrote.

The pledge, which the UCI has asked all cyclists to sign,
includes a declaration from riders that they have had no
involvement with the Puerto doping case in Spain.

Riders signing it agree that if they are given a standard
two-year ban for any doping case they will pay not only the
stipulated fine but also a year's salary.

The declaration also states that the rider will give a DNA
sample to be compared with blood taken in the Puerto affair.

The UCI have stressed that it is not a legal document, and
riders cannot be forced to sign it, but world championship
organizers are trying via the courts to stop Bettini taking part
precisely because he has not done so.

"The declaration … is a farce," Bettini wrote. "Similarly to
demand [for those caught doping] fines above what is already in
the rules is nothing else than populism."

Bettini added in the letter that working for a complex
organization like a cycling team made it possible for a rider to
receive illegal substances without his knowledge.

He said it was outrageous to raise the level of fines to a
year's salary.

He also distanced himself from the Puerto case and said he
had never been involved in doping.

Bettini added that he would make himself available to the
Spanish authorities for a DNA test should he be the subject of a
criminal enquiry.