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INSIDE THE UCI ASO CONFLICT ABOUT ORGANIZING CYCLING AS A
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as race favorites Alberto Contador Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Kl den for the whole. cycling season This decision of denying top cyclists participation in the most prestigious. cycling races made speculations circulate about a possible team switch of these riders to. compete and especially to defend their chance in the upcoming Tour de France 6. ASO s decision followed the decision of Giro organizer RCS not to invite Astana to. the season s first grand tour the 2008 Giro d Italia based on similar ethical reasons 7 The. lead taken by ASO and RCS to exclude Astana strikingly contrasts with Vuelta organizer. Unipublic to welcome Astana in the season s final grand tour the 2008 Vuelta a Espa a. Contrary to ASO and RCS Unipublic emphasized the sporting interest that Astana and its. team leader Alberto Contador who is from Spanish nationality have in participating in. the Spanish grand tour the Vuelta 8, As a result of ASO s decision to exclude its riders from the participation of the 2008. Tour de France Astana was forced to reshuffle its racing schedule for the 2008 cycling. season 9 ASO s decision also caused deep disappointment among the cycling fans 10 The. International Cycling Union UCI whose aim as the cycling governing body is to regulate. cycling at international level strongly disapproved ASO s decision threatening to expel. riders who would take part in the cycling races organized by ASO 11 and promising to back. Alberto Contador should he decide to take legal action over his exclusion from this year s. ASO races 12, In view of Astana s entire reorganization of its structure and the rigorous doping. controls developed by the team New management new riders new philosophy Only the. name of the sponsor remained ASO s rationale to exclude Astana from the participation in. its cycling events in 2008 may appear to be suspect 13 On the ground of ASO s Code of. Ethics invoked by ASO to exclude Astana it is indeed difficult to justify at the same time. the participation of teams like the Dutch Rabobank whose team leader Michael Rasmussen. holder of the yellow jersey during the 2007 Tour de France was expelled out of the Tour de. France for testing positive for doping and the French Cofidis which pulled out of the 2007. Tour de France after its rider Cristian Moreni also tested positive for doping which were. like Astana involved in doping scandals in the 2007 Tour de France. The Astana affair illustrates the conflict not to say the war which is currently. pitting the UCI and ASO for the team selection in the most important cycling events In this. conflict both the UCI and ASO use different means e g ultimatum threat of exclusions. boycott in their attempt to take the lead of the cycling world While Astana seems to be the. scapegoat of the ASO UCI war this year the Belgian Swedish team Unibet was at the. center of the battle field during the whole 2007 cycling season Barred from the participation. of all ASO cycling races in 2007 Unibet unlike Astana so far immediately took legal. action in order to challenge ASO s decision and to seek judicial authorization to compete in. the races organized by ASO, Through a description of the Unibet case this paper will address the issues which. currently affect cycling about the team selection in the most important cycling events of the. season showing the open conflict between the International Cycling Federation UCI and the. See e g rumors of Contador s team switch though denied on VeloNews website available at. http www velonews com article 73823, http www velonews com article 71733. http www velonews com article 72007, http www velonews com article 72278.
http www velonews com article 72091, http www velonews com article 73065. http www velonews com article 73319, http www velonews com article 72252. organizers of the cycling events especially ASO and the consequences that this conflict has. on the organization of cycling as a sport, 1 THE PARTIES INVOLVED IN THE UNIBET CASE. 1 1 THE INTERNATIONAL CYCLING UNION UCI, The UCI is the cycling governing body which is responsible for regulating cycling at. international level The UCI represents the interests of more than 170 national cycling. federations 1 200 professional riders 600 000 licensed riders millions of cycling athletes. who train regularly and more than a billion users 14 The UCI was founded on April 14 1900. by the Belgian French Italian Swiss and United States national cycling federations in Paris. France Its headquarters are located in Aigle Switzerland and it is currently chaired by. former Irish professional rider Pat McQuaid, The UCI means to develop and promote all aspects of cycling 15 In particular t he.
purposes of the UCI are, a to direct develop regulate control and discipline cycling under all forms worldwide. c to organize for all cycling sport disciplines world championships of which it is the sole. holder and owner, e to promote sportsmanship and fair play. g to cooperate with the International Olympic Committee in particular as regards the. participation of cyclists in the Olympic Games Article 2 of the UCI Constitution. From Article 2 of the UCI Constitution it results that the UCI is only responsible for. the organization of the cycling world championships and in cooperation with the. International Olympic Committee for the participation of the cyclists in the Olympic. Games By virtue of its Constitution the UCI therefore has not explicitly the authority to. organize other cycling races As it appears clearly from the UCI Cycling Regulations. organization of races is the entire and exclusive responsibility of the organizers 16 However. to be recognized as an official international cycling event in which teams are authorized to. participate races must in principle be included on the UCI s world calendar 17. 1 2 AMAURY SPORT ORGANISATION ASO, ASO is a commercial company specialized in the creation promotion and. organization of sports events not only in the field of cycling but also in the fields of motor. sports the Dakar athletics the Paris marathon equestrian sports and golf ASO is part of. the French media group ditions Philippe Amaury EPA which owns among others the. leading French sports newspaper L Equipe, See http www uci ch templates UCI UCI1 layout asp MenuId MTI2NjQ. http www uci ch templates UCI UCI5 layout asp MenuId MTI2NDU. The UCI Cycling Regulations are available at, http www uciprotour com Modules BUILTIN getObject asp MenuId MTcxNw ObjTypeCode FILE type.
FILE id 34033 Part 1 General Organisation of Cycling as a Sport and at. http www uciprotour com Modules BUILTIN getObject asp MenuId MTcxNw ObjTypeCode FILE type. FILE id 34028 Part 2 Road Races, Section 1 2 019 UCI Cycling Regulations. With respect to cycling ASO organizes among the season s most prestigious races. including in France the Tour de France Paris Nice and Paris Roubaix and in Belgium the. Fl che Wallonne and Li ge Bastogne Li ge 18, Most of the cycling races organized by ASO exist for several decades Until 2004. ASO s cycling races were all included on the UCI s world calendar. 1 3 UNIBET, Unibet was a Belgian Swedish cycling team which was mainly sponsored by the. online gambling company Unibet com Unibet employed 55 people and its team roster was. composed of 27 riders 19 Unibet s investment in its cycling team represented an amount of. USD 42 million over four seasons 20, Before it was granted a license to compete in the most prestigious races included on. the UCI s world calendar Unibet as a continuation of the MrBookmaker com cycling team. rode on the lower ranked European Continental Circuit After some hesitations of the UCI. Unibet obtained the UCI s ProTour license for the 2007 season allowing its riders to. participate in the races included on the UCI s world calendar Despite some good results. including wins in the first races of the 2007 season e g Jeremy Hunt in the Grand Prix. d Ouverture La Marseillaise Baden Cooke in the third stage of the Tour Down Under Jimmy. Casper in Le Samyn Unibet was denied participation in the three grand tours and the most. prestigious races organized by ASO in 2007, As a result of its exclusion from most of the biggest races in 2007 Unibet ceased.
operations at the end of the 2007 season 21 Unibet was however succeeded by the Swedish. team Cycle Collstrop which is sponsored by a timber company 22 Although the UCI did not. grant to this team the 2008 Pro Tour license Cycle Collstrop was granted a one year wild. card license allowing the team to be invited to races on the UCI s world calendar. 2 THE ISSUE UNDERLYING THE UNIBET CASE THE UCI PRO TOUR. Underlying the Unibet case was the decision of the UCI to launch the UCI Pro Tour as. of the 2005 cycling season The UCI ProTour meant to be a race series of prestigious cycling. events including the three grand tours featuring the best teams and the best riders in the. world 23 Its aim was to offer a more comprehensive package of events to media giving the. sponsors more solid guarantees 24, Participation in the UCI Pro Tour required the race organizers and the teams to hold a. UCI Pro Tour license to be granted by the UCI 25 The UCI Pro Tour license obliged i all. UCI Pro Teams i e the cycling teams with a UCI Pro Tour license to compete in all the UCI. Pro Tour events 26 and consequently ii the race organizers to invite all UCI Pro Teams to. participate in all the UCI Pro Tour events they organize 27. ASO s website is available at http www aso fr index us html. See the composition of the Unibet roster at, http www uciprotour com Modules SUCI TEAMS TeamDetails asp id NTA RefDate 01 01 2007 MenuId. MTUyODM BackLink 2Ftemplates 2FUCI 2FUCI2 2Flayout 2Easp 3FMenuId 3DMTUyODM. http www velonews com article 11832, http www velonews com article 13095. http www velonews com article 73317, http www uciprotour com templates UCI UCI1 layout asp MenuId MTcxNw. http www velonews com article 7029, Section 2 15 001 of the UCI Cycling Regulations.
Section 2 15 127 of the UCI Cycling Regulations, Section 2 15 261 of the UCI Cycling Regulations. As from the start ASO as well as the organizers of the other grand tours RCS and. Unipublic have expressed strong criticism against the UCI Pro Tour The organizers. reproached the UCI Pro Tour for giving the UCI too much power and for creating a closed. circuit built along the same lines as the American professional sports leagues Such closed. circuit system would exclude promotion and relegation of teams which would block any. ambitious teams from being able to win promotion to the elite league In September 2004. ASO RCS and Unipublic released a joint statement in which they opposed the UCI Pro Tour. project The consequence of this joint statement was far reaching for the UCI since the three. grand tour organizers ran other races which had been set by the UCI to become part of the. UCI Pro Tour e g besides the Tour de France ASO also organizes among others in France. Paris Nice and Paris Roubaix and in Belgium the Fl che Wallonne and Li ge Bastogne. Li ge besides the Giro d Italia RCS also organizes in Italy Milan San Remo and Tirreno. Adriatico besides the Vuelta a Espa a Unipublic also organizes in Spain the Tour of. Catalonia 28 Pressed by the UCI the organizers ultimately agreed to include their events in. the 2005 UCI Pro Tour calendar emphasizing however that numerous disagreements. remained between them and the UCI 29, ASO RCS and Unipublic reiterated their opposition to the UCI Pro Tour on several. occasions Taking note of the failure to reach an agreement with the UCI the organizers. released a new joint statement on December 12 2006 confirming again their refusal to include. their events in the closed circuit system imposed by the UCI The joint statement started as. follows All their attempts at rapprochement with the Union Cycliste Internationale UCI. having ended because of the refusal of the latter to return to an open sporting model and not. wanting their events to be part of a closed system called the UCI ProTour RCS Sport ASO. and Unipublic the organizers notably of the three Grand Tours have to define the conditions. of participation in their principal events starting in 2007 These conditions help move toward. the desired open system wanted by the three national federations France Italy and Spain. along with numerous other organizers Instead of using the UCI Pro Tour system whereby. the ProTour Teams get automatic starts the organizers proposed to implement an alternative. racing circuit under the following conditions, Starting in 2008 16 teams will qualify automatically under conditions still being worked. out but based principally on performances in the two previous years The details of these. criteria will be announced before March 1 2007 after consultation with the teams and. the riders, The current 18 Pro Tour teams will qualify automatically for the 2007 events. None of the above teams are obliged to start any of the 11 events but they will have to. notify the three organizers of their decisions by December 31 of each year. The organizer of each race reserves the right to refuse a start to any rider or to any. member of a team s staff whose presence could threaten the reputation of the event. The organizer of each event can invite wild cards For the grand tours these will be. distributed three months before the race start the number of teams participating cannot. INSIDE THE UCI ASO CONFLICT ABOUT ORGANIZING CYCLING AS A SPORT THE UNIBET CASE BENOIT HANSEZ INTRODUCTION Winner of the 2007 Tour de France Alberto Contador as

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