ASO refutes UCI president's claims

By Hedwig Kröner While the 2008 season is fully underway, the two most powerful protagonists of the...

The battle of words continues, further adding to cycling's inconsistencies

By Hedwig Kröner

While the 2008 season is fully underway, the two most powerful protagonists of the sport, the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the Tour de France organiser ASO, have ceased talking to one another. Relations are non-existent, and the owner of the most important events of the sport is organising its races with the help of the French federation FFC.

The UCI has lashed out at all parties involved, going so far as to take disciplinary action against the FFC as well as the teams and riders, and to theorise that the ASO is trying to supplant the UCI. Cyclingnews contacted ASO president Patrice Clerc to get a response to the recent statements made to Cyclingnews by his UCI counterpart, Pat McQuaid.

With cycling's credibility so widely agreed upon as the sport's number one problem, it is ironic that the sport's governing body and the organiser of the sport's most prestigious races would engage in what appears to be a perfect example of Sophistry rather than meeting face to face to come to an accord, but both sides prefer at the moment to play out the battle in the press.

In ancient Greece, Sophists were intellectuals who employed rhetoric to persuade or convince others. They were also the first lawyers in the world, due their extremely developed argumentation skills. In the modern day version on display in the sport of cycling, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get to the truth behind the words from both sides, and even close followers of the story are left wondering if there are any facts behind the fluster or any hope of resolution.

No parallel federation to UCI

In one example of the baffling contradictions which emanate from this conflict, the UCI has maintained that the ASO is creating a second governing body of cycling. The ASO has managed to hold a major event, Paris-Nice, without any help from the UCI – it used its own sanctioning body (the FFC), its own anti-doping controls, and even had its own terms and contracts for the riders. Yet Clerc refuted McQuaid's allegations that his organisation seeks to replace the UCI, and maintained that ASO wanted its races to take place under the regulatory framework of a strong sports authority.

"Since Paris-Nice, I hear from all sides that ASO wants to create its own federation, parallel to and rivalling the UCI," Clerc told Cyclingnews on Tuesday. "Now, that is ludicrous! I have never, ever said or thought about this... The ASO does not want to create a new federation, quite the contrary!

"McQuaid even goes further, saying that ASO is supported in this project by the French federation, the sports minister and the French government, and even the president of the République, Mr Sarkozy! Now, if the fate of cycling wasn't at stake, this could really make you laugh! It is senseless and completely wrong.

"From the very beginning, we never stopped saying that we believed in a strong sports authority, and that we want our races to take place under a regulatory framework, under the aegis of the French federation, and of course under the aegis of the federation of federations, the UCI. But not under the UCI as it is now, but under a governing body as it should be, which remains in its field of competence and does not change its role."

Read the complete feature.

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