The UCI and Katusha - 19 is more than enough

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02/19/2013| 0 comments
by Neil Browne
Can the UCI pound a square peg into a round hole? Things are getting sticky for the UCI ... again Fotoreporter Sirotti

The UCI and Katusha - 19 is more than enough

Can the UCI pound a square peg into a round hole?

Things are getting sticky for the UCI ... again. The Russian Katusha team had enjoyed ProTour status way back in 2012. Naturally management thought that would remain status quo the following year. They have grand tour threat and classic winner Joaquim Rodriguez on the squad. The squad also finished the 2012 season in second position on the ProTour team standings, so it seemed a lock. However, the UCI had a loophole in the ProTour application process.

The UCI rejected Katusha’s ProTour application based on an ethics clause basically stating that the team had some doping issues - meaning they had guys who had gotten popped.

From 2009 to 2012 the team has been involved in four doping cases, most recently Denis Galimzyanov who was found to be positive for EPO last April. Also, Denis Menchov scored a nine out of possible 10 on the UCI doping suspicion list. The cherry on top is the team director Vyacheslav Ekimov who had been a teammate of Lance Armstrong during his seven Tour de France wins, so yeah, that’s awkward ...

Katusha wasn’t going to let that ProTour status slide. Being a part of the ProTour means automatic selection to the grand tours and the classics - a must-have for any team to prove its worth to a sponsor. If a sponsor is sold on the idea their squad is going to a grand tour and then it doesn’t, you can count how long they will remain with the team with an egg timer.

For Katusha the next stop was the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), sport’s version of the Supreme Court, to appeal the UCI’s decision.

CAS issued a statement, “Following the hearing, the CAS Panel did not reach the same conclusions as the UCI Licensing Commission and decided to uphold the appeal .” Katusha could once again play with the big boys.

Also this meant that J-Rod wasn’t going to bolt for the door and transfer to a team that was ensured a Tour selection.

While it was happy days in Moscow, back in Aigle they were now in a bit of a pickle. The plan is 18 ProTour teams. Now they have 19. Also, each grand tour is allowed to pick four wildcard teams. These wildcard team selections are usually based on national biases and other factors. For example, the French Europcar team isn’t on the 2013 UCI ProTeams list, but it’s a safe bet they’re included in the Tour de France for a couple of reasons: the afore mentioned Frenchiness and the ever popular Thomas Voeckler. It’s a lock.

As it stands now, there are 19 UCI ProTour teams and the sport’s governing body isn’t pleased. It’s the equivalent of trying to put a square peg into a round hole. Does this mean that one of the already approved squads will get the boot?

Nope. The UCI bent its own rule and is allowing 19 registered teams into the 2013 ProTour. Does this mean there will be one less wild card selection for various races? For some race organizers this

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