The UCI has made it clear it does not intend to compromise in its battle with Paris-Nice organisers ASO by launching a war of words in the press and further threatening riders and managers with bans and fines if they start the French race.
On Friday afternoon, just 24 hours before teams have to formally enter riders for Paris-Nice that starts on Sunday, the UCI announced they had began disciplinary proceedings against the French Cycling Federation and Eric Boyer, President of the International Association of Professional Cycling Groups (AIGCP), for helping ASO run Paris-Nice under French law and with the leading teams in the sport.
In a statement the UCI said: ?The FFC and Mr J. Pitallier betrayed their obligations of loyalty towards the UCI and the entire cycling community.?
The UCI called on Boyer to resign from the UCI ProTour Council and began action against him because ?he encouraged members of the AIGCP to contravene the UCI rules by asking them to take part in Paris-Nice when the event is not on the UCI calendar.?
As a consequence of the disciplinary action, French riders could be banned from taking part in the track world championships in Manchester, this summer?s Beijing Olympics and the world road race championships in Varese in September.
Earlier this week in a letter sent to the riders set to take part in Paris-Nice, McQuaid said they risked a six-month ban, a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs and exclusion from UCI world championships. In interviews with the BBC and the Reuters news agency on Friday, Pat McQuaid reiterated his threats to the teams as they seemed to be keen to ride Paris-Nice.
“The UCI has made it quite clear to the teams that they needed to be aware of the decision they make,” McQuaid told Reuters.
“If they decide to go with (Paris-Nice organisers) ASO they have firmly taken the decision to be out of the UCI. We will work them out of the UCI.”
In an open letter published in the French Le Monde newspaper, McQuaid said:
“We must warn those who love cycling that accepting the demands of ASO means turning professional cycling in a private league governed by the organizer, not by a body that represents the collective interests of the sport.?
?ASO refused to entry Paris-Nice in a calendar that was democratically decided. It wants to place its events out of the regulations so it can set its own rules with the teams.?
POWER STRUGGLE COULD LEAD TO A DIVIDED SPORT
ASO have refused to run Paris-Nice under UCI rules because of the long-running power struggle between the two.
A peace deal seemed to have been thrashed out at last year?s road race world championships in Stuttgart but then the UCI gave the Astana team a ProTour licence and decided that all 18 ProTour had to have automatic entry to the Tour de France to safe guard sponsors interests.
ASO announced Astana would not be invited to the Tour de France and refused to run Paris-Nice under UCI governance and instead worked with the French Federation to ensure in-race anti-doping tests and organise race commissaries.
Calls have come from many other key parts of the sport for the two sides to make at least a short-term peace deal to allow Paris-Nice to go ahead without consequences.
But as the clock ticks down, neither ASO or the UCI appear willing to take a step back as cycling moves closer and closer towards the abyss of divided sport and perhaps the creation of a damaging separate professional race series.
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