The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld an appeal filed by Katusha, stating their application to be registered as a ProTeam is granted.
Katusha appealed to the CAS after they were relegated from the WorldTour on December seventh, when the Union Cycliste International (UCI) announced the 18 ProTeams for 2013, leaving the Russian team out. It was later granted a Professional Continental licence.
The UCI gave the team its reasons for relegating it, but never made them public. It was however widely believed to be for ethical reasons. ProTeam licence applications are granted on sporting, ethical, financial and administrative criteria.
Katusha met the sporting and financial demands – Joaquim Rodriguez was ranked number one in the world in 2012 and the team is believed to be the richest in the world, with backing from some of Russia’s richest companies – but may have come up short on the administrative and ethical side.
Several of the teams riders are involved in the ongoing Padua investigation in Italy, Denis Galimzyanov tested positive for EPO last year and proof emerged early in 2012 of Alexandr Kolobnev selling Liége-Bastogne-Liége to Alexandre Vinokourov in 2010.
The sport’s governing body has already stated its intention to keep the number of ProTeam licences to 18, and for the time being has simply acknowledged the ruling, saying; ‘the UCI will now evaluate the consequences of this ruling and will communicate further in coming days.’
If the UCI was to relegate another team at this stage of the season it is likely to once again find the decision taken to the CAS.
The ruling means Katusha should now receive automatic invites to all the WorldTour races which may put some wild card teams in danger. The next WorldTour race is Paris-Nice, starting on March 3. 22 teams have been named for the race, Katusha is not among them.
Today’s CAS statement read:
Lausanne, 15 February 2013 – The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld the appeal filed by Katusha Management SA (Katusha) against the International Cycling Union (UCI) in relation to Katusha’s application for a license to participate in the UCI World Tour 2013 season.
Further to an investigation by the Auditor appointed by the UCI, the UCI Licensing Commission issued a decision on 10 December 2012 in which it refused Katusha’s application for the UCI World Tour 2013 season. On 20 December 2012, Katusha filed an appeal at the CAS against such decision requesting that it be set aside and that Katusha be registered as a UCI ProTeam for the 2013 season. On 14 January 2013, the UCI has granted the Continental licence to the team.
A CAS hearing was held on 8 February 2013 during which the parties and their representatives were heard by the CAS Panel in charge of this matter: Professor Luigi Fumagalli (Italy), President of the Panel, Mr Luc Argand (Switzerland) and Mr Michele Bernasconi (Switzerland).
In its deliberations following the hearing, the CAS Panel did not reach the same conclusions as the UCI Licensing Commission and decided to uphold the appeal. According to the CAS decision, the application of Katusha Management SA to be registered as a UCI ProTeam for the season 2013 of the UCI World Tour is granted.
In view of the urgency of the matter, the Panel has issued its decision today, without the grounds, which will be issued in writing in a few weeks.