Stuttgart refusing to pay nearly $1 million to UCI over doping

Updated: September 29, 2007, 8:27 AM ET
Associated Press

STUTTGART, Germany -- The world governing body for cycling said Saturday it is trying to recover almost $1 million Stuttgart still owes for organizing the world championships, following reports the host city would stop paying to protest the sport's doping problems.

Stuttgart had earlier sued the UCI for guaranteeing world champion Paolo Bettini a spot at Sunday's road race start, even though he had refused to sign an anti-doping pledge. Bettini, who has never been caught doping, said he doesn't back the commitment because fines are too hefty and puts riders in a weak position.

The UCI said the voluntary anti-doping pledge could not be reason enough to ban riders from racing.

On Saturday, Stuttgart mayor Wolfgang Schuster said in the Stuttgarter Nachrichten he would refuse to pay an outstanding installment of $960,000 because "we don't give taxpayers' money to organizations that do not diligently fight doping."

The UCI responded that it would take action.

"The UCI will deal with that in the proper way when the championships are over," UCI president Pat McQuaid said. "It hurts the UCI. It is a significant sum of money."

Stuttgart claimed it had a binding deal with cycling's governing body to bar any rider who has not signed the anti-doping charter. The UCI denied that.

McQuaid said the host city was out of line to seek a court ban, threaten nonpayment and undermine the success of the weeklong championships.

"Some people have not acted in good faith," he said.

It is the kind of rhetoric that has come to overshadow the first two days of time-trial racing early in the week. The road races opened with the women's event on Saturday.

Bettini was not the only problem for the race organizers.

Another Italian rider, Giro d'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca, withdrew Thursday after the Italian Olympic Committee recommended he be banned for four months for doping.

And the UCI was forced to allow Alejandro Valverde of Spain and Allan Davis of Australia to compete despite their alleged links to the Operation Puerto blood doping investigation in Spain.

To protest the doping scandals, one of Germany's national broadcasters shortened its live coverage of Sunday's race because of the "current situation in cycling."

The ZDF network said it would show only the last 15 minutes of the men's road race, with another 30 minutes devoted to background reports on the problem of doping in cycling, a statement said.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press