<
>

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

9/29/2007

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.