Spaniard Alejandro Valverde will fly to Stuttgart on Thursday to take part in the World Championships. The Swiss Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS) decided in his favour – for reasons not to be revealed for the next two months.
However, differences between the UCI and local race organisers could see an even more dramatic last-minute exclusion case arising – that of reigning World Champion Paolo Bettini.
Bettini?s apparent refusal to sign the UCI?s anti-doping pledge this summer without any pre-conditions has led to lengthy discussions between UCI president Pat McQuaid and the legal department of the city of Stuttgart on Wednesday afternoon. McQuaid has not revealed the content of these discussions.
?We don?t have any right to stop these riders who don?t sign the pledge from racing.? McQuaid said in a press conference on Wednesday evening. ?These documents like the pledge are not legally binding.?
Stuttgart?s local organisers are apparently not so convinced and it is strongly rumoured that they may take urgent legal action to stop Bettini from racing, based on his refusal to sign the pledge.
As regards Valverde, UCI president Pat Mcquaid said ?it?s not a big blow, even if it?s not good news. We have to accept the decision, full stop.?
He did say that the Valverde situation meant that Australian Allan Davis, also allegedly implicated in Puerto and, like Valverde, cleared by his own national Federation and anti-doping Agency, would be able to race.
McQuaid launched an incisive attack against local organisers over their decision that Eddy Merckx would ?not be welcome? at the World Championships because of his past doping offences.
?Their words will have discouraged thousands of Belgian fans coming here and making this event a success. I personally rang Eddy to tell him that he could come as a UCI guest.?
?The pressure from the local organisers is very big, they have a fixed point of view, we don?t subscribe to the same view in absolutely everything. We must allow for our own rules and regulations as well.?
The World Championships: who’s in and who’s out
Alejandro Valverde (Spain): can race. ?I?ll give him the rainbow jersey and shake his hand on Sunday if he wins.? McQuaid says.
Paolo Bettini (Italy): can race. Apparently faces local race organisers opposition to his participation.
Danilo Di Luca (Italy): can race. Could be stopped if suspended from racing by CONI over presumed implication in number of doping affairs.
Allan Davis (Australia): can race according to UCI.
Erik Zabel (Germany): can race. Given ?benefit of doubt? by local organisers.
Eddy Merckx (Belgium, retired). Has been told by UCI he is welcome. Local organisers apparently don?t want to see him at some events to celebrate the World Championships.
2007 ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS NEWS
2007 ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS COVERAGE
2007 ROAD WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS PHOTO GALLERIES
2006 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Official 2007 Road World Championships website: www.radwm2007.com.
Union Cycliste Internationale: www.uci.ch.