UCI vows ban on Paris-Nice riders; CAS declines to get involved

Updated: March 7, 2008, 12:42 PM ET
Reuters

AIGLE, Switzerland, -- Teams that take part in the Paris-Nice cycle race starting on Sunday will eventually be "worked out" of the International Cycling Union, UCI president Pat McQuaid said on Friday.

"The UCI has made it quite clear to the teams that they needed to be aware of the decision they make," McQuaid told Reuters in an interview.

"If they decide to go with [Paris-Nice organizers] ASO they have firmly taken the decision to be out of the UCI. We will work them out of the UCI."

While the Court of Arbitration for Sport on Friday declined to intervene on behalf of the riders, who had sought ther body's assistance to protect them from UCI sanctions, a majority of cycling teams voted to take part in the race.

"I'm still waiting for Sunday morning. If they voted in a majority, it means some have not voted for it and thus have been forced to break the UCI regulations," McQuaid told Reuters.

"So until Sunday morning it's still wait and see."

Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO), which also organizes the Tour de France, and the UCI have been at odds over the Tour organizers' refusal to join the UCI ProTour due to a dispute over who competes in their events.

"The ProTour system as it is today is completely bombed," McQuaid said.

"We'd start on a new system with the teams, organizers and cyclists who wish to respect the regulations of the UCI," he said of what would happen if teams were to be kicked out.

"What is at stake is the authority and the autonomy of the UCI."

The week-long Paris-Nice race was dropped from the UCI's showcase ProTour calendar over the dispute with ASO but the organizers, in agreement with the teams and the French Cycling Federation, decided the event would go ahead outside UCI regulations.

The move to bring in CAS was made by the International Professional Cycling Teams, which represents teams competing in the UCI ProTour with the exception of Francaise des Jeux.

The FFC, its president Jean Pitallier and Eric Boyer, the president of the Association of Professional Cycling Teams, all face disciplinary proceedings because of their backing of the event, the UCI said in a statement on Friday.

ProTour rules state that any member team has a guaranteed place in the biggest races of the season, while ASO and Tour of Spain organizers Unipublic and Giro d'Italia organizers RCS want to choose the teams participating in their races.

The row between ASO and the UCI intensified last month when ASO said Astana, the team of last year's Tour de France winner Alberto Contador of Spain, would be barred from all events they organize, including the 2008 Tour, because of its implication in doping scandals.

RCS sports events director Angelo Zomegnan said he sympathised with ASO.

"I understand the ASO position because we are in the last period of a long match between the UCI and organizers," he told Reuters.

"We can't accept the abuse from the UCI anymore. It is not my goal to know if Pat McQuaid is unhappy with us. We are unhappy with him. The teams and riders are against McQuaid."

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