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UCI President rules out radio rethink
Pat McQuaid has commented on the Spanish Cycling Federation’s decision to clear Alberto Contador of doping. The UCI president, who is currently attending the Tour of Oman, criticised the intervention of Spanish politicians in the affair.
"I can't give a personal opinion until the whole affair is finished and it's not finished yet," McQuaid told media at the Tour of Oman.
"We got 35 pages from the Spanish Federation yesterday, which has to be translated and studied, and then we'll discuss it with WADA. We'll wait for the full documentation from the Spanish Federation and then we've got 30 days to decide whether we appeal or not. It's a UCI decision."
McQuaid hopes that any appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) will be made before the Tour de France in July.
"I would hope and be fairly confident that it could all be sorted out before the Tour de France, that we can go to CAS and that CAS will understand that we need this one relatively quickly, certainly before the Tour de France," he said.
"If within the 30 days we decide to go to CAS, we'll ask to do it before the Tour de France."
McQuaid accepted that Contador is free to ride Tour of the Algarve that begins today in Portugal. However, he acknowledged that the uncertainty was not good for the sport.
"That's the rules. The rules allow him to race, so he races," he said.
"The impact is there and there is nothing I can do about it. We have to move on and continue racing. There's a calendar of races that have to be fulfilled and there are clean riders that are racing. We have to let them race and they deserve the support of everybody."
McQuaid was openly critical of the pressure Spanish politicians had put on the case. Spanish prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero was among those to publicly comment in Contador's favour.
"I wasn't surprised when you see it's Spain. Nothing surprises me that comes from Spain. But it's disappointing," he said.
"It's up to sport to police itself. I don’t think it should be interfered with by politicians who don’t know the full facts of the cases and then make statements that are purely political statements.
“I don’t think we can blame the Spanish federation. They've done a good job. I think it [political pressure] is unwarranted and doesn’t help. It doesn’t help the image of Spain either. It showed that they're biased in supporting their own regardless of what the facts of the case might be."
McQuaid also confirmed that he, former UCI president Hein Verbruggen and the UCI have sent a solicitor’s letter to Floyd Landis in response to comments the American made to German television station ARD in November.
He denied that he was in Oman to speak to the riders about race radio, insisting that a decision has been made. He blamed the sports directors of the teams for putting pressure on their riders to protest in favour of the use of radios.
No rethink about race radio
McQuaid made it clear that there will be no rethink or negotiation about the use of radio earpieces in races. He dismissed the significance of the votes carried out by riders and teams in favour of using the radios, insisting there was no need for further dialogue.
"The decision has been taken by the UCI and there's no need to talk to anybody. The decision's taken and that's that," McQuaid said defiantly.
"I'm happy to sit down and meet with people, I'm due to meet Bugno of the CPA soon, but it's not to change a decision that has already been made."
"The (UCI) road commission has taken a decision and that has gone to the management committee and they've decided on it. That's it. There's been enough consulting done for this decision to be taken."
McQuaid refuted that the teams and riders had no input on the decision to ban race radios.
"All the different groups have representation. The fact that they don’t control is what they’re complaining about. The fact that they don't get their way is what they’re complaining about," he said.
"The only people against this are the team directors who are now motivating riders to force themselves against it. The team directors want to control the racing, completely."
"It should be the riders who decide. They have a voice and they're heard. But there are other forces at work here. I know that phone calls have been made to Philippe Gilbert, who has openly spoken against radios and has been pressurized to change his views."
"It's right the team directors can coach and direct as they've done for years and years, but once the riders get on the road it's up to them, up to their own intelligence and own legs to race. I don’t believe the security argument. How did the sport do for 60, 70, 80 or 100 years?”
McQuaid hinted that the introduction of a radio ban in Continental level races will be monitored, but left little room for a possible change in the UCI's decision.
"We'll wait and see the decision through, and we'll wait and analyse as the weeks and months progress. We can revisit it but we’ve got to see what happens. If we find we have to change things, we'll change things.
"But people need to understand that they have to respect the rules. The rules are there for everybody. But it's neither here nor there. The decision has been taken and that's that."