Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Wednesday Roundup

The CyclingNews says that the UCI has threatened teams and riders with sanctions if they take part in ASO events, specifically Paris-Nice. In an email sent out yesterday Pat McQuaid says he has "sympathy" for the riders but at this point he is well prepared to take action against them:

According to the letter, riders who particpate in Paris-Nice face up to six months suspension, a fine of up to 10,000 Swiss francs, the loss of UCI points and "exclusion from participation in UCI World Championships and other events". Teams were threatened with the suspension of their UCI registration, a fine of up to 10,000 Swiss francs and withdrawal of the UCI ProTour licence or Wild Card label

So much for the UCI taking a "pro rider stance" as claimed last week. The teams state they have been forced into proverbial "rock or hard" status:
Gerolsteiner team manager Hans-Michael Holczer refused to say whether or not his team would ride on Sunday, but noted, "If we don't start in Paris-Nice, then you can be sure that we can forget our start in the Tour de France. If we do start, then our riders are threatened by the UCI with a ban and non-participation in the world championships and Olympics. We have our choice of being either quartered or hanged." Gerolsteiner was supposed to send such riders as Davide Rebellin, Bernhard Kohl, Stefan Schumacher and Andrea Moletta to Paris-Nice.

In the meantime McQuaid has refused to meet with the ASO to hash out this dilemma, and the ASO has accepted changes in the language of the Paris-Nice contract which AIGCP found objectionable. And so it goes...

The VeloNews also writes on the above topic, taking the angle this can only be destructive to an already fragile sport.

Later VeloNews passes on word from AFP that says the head of the FFC, Jean Pitallier will take the UCI to CAS if the UCI keeps messing things up. He says he has the backing of French President Nicolas Sarkozy should this me necessary, so is no longer an ASO thing, but a French thing.

reports that the CONI hearing, through which the Italian Olympic Committee wishes to ban Danilo DiLuca for two years for irregular hormone levels, will take place in April 1. We're still not sure which WADA regulation covers irregular hormone levels, as in, do they constitute an AAF, or is this being chased as a non-analytic positive? reports Prudhomme as ready to take doping on, and scoffs at suggestions made by some to make the event easier to reduce the temptation:
“Ben Johnson took drugs to run a 100 metres, so it's not the race or design of the course. If you staged a sack race, I'm sure some people would take drugs to be the best in a sack race,” he said.

Or as Landis once wrote of the same suggestion: "I think we should shorten the long jump."

Racejunkie assesses the major players in the Paris-Nice brouhaha and assigns levels of sympathy for them.

Matt Steinmetz ran into Landis at the Vision Quest camp, with pix.

RobsWorld is getting some indirect help from Allen Lim, and doing a bunch of testing.

Phantom Reflections was happy to see Landis as the ToC finale, seeing as he was the first winner of the event.

MCP also recaps the ToC and includes a nice photo of Floyd Landis.

Benjacat is amused by the Federal Case being pursued against Clemens:
Remember when the Floyd Landis scandal broke and American mainstream media sports news people summarily dismissed cycling as a fraudulent sport while continuing to treat the Big 3 "American" sports as clean and legitimate? Now that was funny.

Alan Foster runs an old article on Mountain Biking, with a quote from a much younger Floyd Landis:
"I like the competition, it's an individual thing, and after a while you get good at crashing," Floyd Landis, 23, a pro rider from Ephrata said. Landis has been a competitive rider for almost half of his life and now is a sponsored rider who travels the circuit. He says it's not a bad life. This year he has been to Big Bear, near Los Angles, now at Seven Springs and will soon be off to Red Wing in Minnesota, then to Canada and Mammoth, Georgia. Sponsored riders fly to these places on the various companies they represent. Landis said the bikes have come a long way and the gears and chains are not as affected by mud the way they used to. "Flat tires are still a problem though," Landis said.

Bruce Hildenbrand at takes on the UCI and ASO, and thinks the UCI are the bad guys here.


Ali said...

I'm no fan of the UCI and I can't predict how this is going to turn out, but I think they've just launched Operation Hit-the-Fan.

This would have been my chosen course of action. Whether the UCI wins or loses, this should certainly bring things to a head.

That's good, isn't it ?

wschart said...

If you think the only option for cycling is to collapse and die now, and resurrect itself phoenix like in a few years, maybe this is good. I don't know myself.

Riders and teams are facing a difficult choice: ride PN and stay in ASO's good graces to be able to take part in the TdF, or drop out of PN to stay in UCI's good graces for the Olympics/World Championships. It will depend in part, I suspect, on what season goals one has.

Or everybody could tell one side or the other to take a flying leap. Then either the Tour, or the O/WC become meaningless events, with "replacement riders", or are even forced to cancel.

In the US, NHL, NFL, and MLB have al gone thru versions of this and survived.

The sad thing is the current situation at least, could have been avoided by simply referring the Astana ban proposal to CAS for resolution. One side would have lost, but could have retained some moral high ground at least.

Tony Raven said...

I would have thought it a no brainer for the teams to comply with the UCI demands. If they don't the riders are out of the Olympics and World Championships. But if they do, do you really think that ASO will ban them all from the TdeF? What sort of credibility would be left with all those teams and riders gone.

The risk profile is so asymmetric that the decision logically has to go in the UCI's favour.

Gary O'Brien said...

You'd think the countries would step in and let the cyclists ride for the Olympics. Italy isn't going to let Bettini miss out because McQ is in a pissing match with Prudhomme.

Sadly, once again it's us fans who lose out if this doesn't clear up. Either way, we're going to miss out on some great racing.
Though, it may mean some of us in the US and second tier European races will get to see some incredible match ups because you'll have some top tier riders and teams itching to compete, especially if this drags on.

grimid said...

wschart said-

"If you think the only option for cycling is to collapse and die now, and resurrect itself phoenix like in a few years, maybe this is good. I don't know myself."

I do. As a former US open-wheel racing fan, I know the answer to that. I only wish that Operation Hit-the-Fan didn't mean fan as in us to be hit.

("Eightzero") said...

I wonder what relief a French court (or Emperor Sarkozy) can grant? Isn't this essentially the same government operation that claims Floyd will never be considered the 2006 TdF Champion, regardless of what the CAS determines?

Exactly what power does the French "judiciary" or executive have over an international, private organization like the UCI? Maybe over the FFC, via some treaty I'm not aware of, or even perhaps to ban the UCI from holding races in France, sure. Perhaps even to the extent they will not allow the UCI to seek enforcement against French citizen, or French business concerns, of their levied fines.

Anyone want to weigh in? (larry? Judge Hue?) Or has the ASO finally gone around the bend?

Ali said...

wschart said

"If you think the only option for cycling is to collapse and die now, and resurrect itself phoenix like in a few years, maybe this is good. I don't know myself."

I don't know either but my belief is that this is what cycling needs. It's become too political, too inbred. A fresh start and some new blood are the order of the day. Michael Ball's timing could not have been better. Whether that was luck or good judgment, who knows ?