With only two days until the start of Paris-Nice, the race and the sport of cycling remains mired in uncertainty after the Association of Professional Cycling Teams (AIGCP) confirmed they would start and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled they cannot intervene in the dispute between race organisers ASO and the International Cycling Union (UCI).
Late on Friday afternoon, AIGCP President Eric Boyer announced that the teams had voted in favour of riding Paris-Nice in an emergency meeting in Paris. He revealed that 15 teams voted in favour, eight abstained from making any decision, while one team left before the final vote.
?I?d have preferred unanimity but we got a majority,? Boyer said.
UCI President Pat McQuaid jumped on the division between the teams and responded: ?We?ll wait for Sunday. If the teams voted with a majority it means some teams weren?t in favour and so they?re being forced to break the UCI rules. Wait and see.?
CAS LACK JURISDICTION TO DECIDE ON BANS
The International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) requested that CAS investigate the legality of the UCI threat of suspension for riders starting Paris-Nice. Following race organiser ASO?s decision to run Paris-Nice outside UCI rules, under the jurisdiction of the French Cycling Federation (FFC), UCI President Pat McQuaid deemed that the race was operating illegally, and that riders taking part might face fines or suspensions.
CAS Secretary General Matthieu Reeb told Cycling Weekly that since neither ASO nor the UCI recognised the authority of the CAS in the dispute, they did not have the power to enforce a decision.
?We can?t do anything in this matter,? he said.
?We don?t have jurisdiction. We need the agreement of all parties.?
The CAS decision means that riders still don?t know if participating in Paris-Nice will have repercussions. Riders on the start list, including 2007 Tour de France runner-up Cadel Evans and Britain?s David Millar, still run the risk that the UCI will penalise them. With only two days until the most important race of the 2008 season so far, it is uncertain whether many teams will risk sending their best riders.
According to Reeb, the door remains open for CAS to intervene, as long as the UCI and ASO agree to taking part in the process.
?CAS remains at the disposal of the parties concerned to find a solution to this dispute, by means of arbitration or mediation, either immediately or at another time convenient to the parties,? he said.