Katusha's exclusion from the WorldTour and how it may benefit the UCI
We analyze possible motives behind the UCI's exclusion of Katusha Team from the 2013 WorldTour, which has left Katusha in a cold and bleak midwinter of discontent. We look at possible effects of the exclusion of Team Katusha and the inclusion of Argos-Shimano and Saxo-Tinkoff.
a Licences Commission consisting of only three members and even being allowed to make decisions with only two members present at meetings. May decisions be influenced too easily?
Not surprisingly, Katusha Team remains greatly disappointed and angry with the decision to exclude the team from the WorldTour. It did not take long before the team issued an official statement commenting on the exclusion.
"At present moment Katusha Team has no information regarding the reasons for the decision of the UCI to reject the request from the team for registration in first division. Team management, riders and staff are extremely surprised by the lack of justification for such a decision made by the UCI. Thus earlier the team, which possesses rider Number 1 in the world and has finished the season in second place in the UCI World Tour ranking, was informed that it satisfies all possible criteria required for participation in the first division."
In the statement, Katusha also used the opportunity to describe how it finds that the exclusion of the team from the WorldTour is in fact a suspension of the country of Russia from professional cycling.
"In fact the only Russian team, where the majority of riders are Russian citizens, has been excluded from participation in races of the World Tour. Thus, this decision of the UCI has suspended Russia as a country from participation in cycling competitions of the highest level," the statement said.
"The management of Katusha Team, its riders and staff are surprised by such a quick change of decision, lack of coordination inside the UCI press service and a complete absence of reasons for such a fast decision," the statement continued.
"The UCI which has been established in order to protect the interests of the riders worldwide, on the contrary by its actions completely violates the canons of sports ethics and causes irreparable moral and psychological harm to the athletes before the start of the new season, and the delay in explaining the reasons of the decisions only shows the lack of the significance of these reasons."
"In the nearest future the management of the Russian team Katusha intends to investigate thoroughly this incident ... The Russian team intends to defend its interests with the help of all possible civilized instruments and methods, including going to court."
Leaving aside the matter pertaining to whether the UCI Licences Commission, which handed out the WorldTour licenses, is independent or not, it is interesting to analyze why it may be in the interest of the UCI to exclude the Katusha Team from the WorldTour.
The exclusion of a major professional cycling team from the WorldTour will inevitably result in significant critique being voiced from the management of the excluded team, the team's fans and possibly also from influential sources such as media and politicians. We have seen such critique in the wake of the decision to exclude Katusha.
The Russian Katusha Team was built on the foundations of Team Tinkoff Credit Systems, which was owned by Oleg Tinkoff who is now sponsoring Team Saxo-Tinkoff. Team Argos-Shimano on the