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Verbruggen steps in to mediate between UCI and teams
Despite upholding their position on boycotting September's Tour of Beijing, the AIGCP and CPA are hopeful that a compromise with the UCI over race radios can be achieved after the two parties began negotiations.
The hunt for comprise involves former UCI president Hein Verbruggen, who is helping bridge the differences between the UCI and AIGCP.
"All of the AIGCP teams signed a document agreeing to not participate in Tour of Beijing if a solution is not found, but I'm hopeful and confident a solution will be found," Jonathan Vaughters, president of the AIGCP told Cyclingnews.
In March, the AIGCP had publicly stated that if a ban on race radios has not been overturned by May 1 they would not participate in the Tour of Beijing later this year. Although that deadline has passed, Vaughters can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
"We're trying to reach a compromise that's acceptable to everyone, so I've noticed there has been some very good negotiations on the part of the UCI and we're certainly trying to get to the point where everyone is ready to move forward.
"I don't really have a specific timeline. I just know that both parties are trying to get to a place where we can both move forward and that's really it. I don't know what the timeline will be," he told Cyclingnews.
The UCI had banned the use of race radios in all races ranked 1.HC/2.HC and below. It plans to extend this rule to cover World Calendar races in 2012. However, one possibly solution could involve the UCI upholding their current rule until such a time when an independent commission investigates the pros and cons of the radio ban.
"I think that the teams and UCI need to respect their own rules, but for instance the radio ban as it is does not apply to top level races. If the rule were to simply continue as things are this year until a commission could look at the benefits, pros and cons, which could take anything up to a year, then that might be something. If the rule stays at this status quo until then, then I think that that's an acceptable compromise. That's one possibility," Vaughters told Cyclingnews.
The role of Verbruggen in the debate will undoubtedly raise eyebrows. Now an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Verbruggen courted controversy during his presidency with comments on doping. He was president of UCI from 1995 until 2005 and last year Floyd Landis accused him and the UCI of covering up a failed dope test for Lance Armstrong. Both Verbruggen and Armstrong denied the claim and the sport's governing body has since threatened Landis with legal action.
Verbruggen has long been rumoured to still play an active but non-public role in the governance of the sport. However his air-drop into the no man's land between the UCI and AIGCP is rumoured to have been brought about after the UCI sent a letter to Vaughters in which they suggest imposing penalties on Garmin-Cervélo – the team Vaughters manages - if their boss persists with any discussion on a breakaway league.
While Vaughters would not comment on any letter, he did add that Verbruggen was helping both the UCI and AIGCP find a resolution. "I've had discussions with Hein Verbruggen on the topic, yes. I think he's trying to help find a compromise."