The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has been called upon by the International Professional Cycling Teams (IPCT) to decide whether or not the teams and riders could race Paris-Nice without risking heavy sanctions by the International Cycling Union (UCI). But with only three days to go before the start of the French stage race, neither the UCI nor the organiser of the event, Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) had recognised the Court's competence to rule on the matter.
"The CAS informed all the parties concerned that an arbitration hearing could take place on 7 March 2008 on the condition that all the parties agreed to accept the jurisdiction of the CAS to decide the case in question. However, neither the UCI nor the ASO have accepted the jurisdiction of the CAS to decide this dispute," a press release by CAS read. "In these circumstances, the CAS must rule during the day of 7 March 2008 on its competence to decide this dispute and, if necessary, on the request for provisional measures filed by the claimants."
Already yesterday, ASO declared in an official communiqué that "because the request made to CAS by the IPCT concerns a dispute between the UCI and the teams as regards the ProTour licences, with which ASO has no ties whatsoever, ASO cannot be associated to this judicial action."
Judge Jacques Leu will thus have to decide on the competence of the CAS to rule in this matter first and foremost. If he decides positively, he will communicate his ruling today, Friday March 7. The decision will be opposable for all parties, meaning that both UCI and ASO could opt not to comply with it. In that case, the teams could turn to civil justice if prejudiced by participating in the race.