UCI president Pat McQuaid clarified his stance on sanctions against riders who are participating in Paris-Nice while visiting Spain to discuss the re-opening of Operación Puerto this week. He gave one of the first interviews since the beginning of the non-UCI sanctioned edition of the race to the Spanish news agency EFE, where he called the riders "the victims" of the battle between Paris-Nice and Tour de France organiser, the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO).
McQuaid, who prior to Paris-Nice had sent letters and made statements threatening riders with fines and suspensions if they participated in the event outside the UCI's rules backed off from that firm stance a bit this week. "I said what I had to say. The race is taking place outside of the rules of the UCI," he said. "When it finishes we will sit down and look at all the circumstances and consider the data that we have. The riders have asked for a meeting. They are victims and have been forced to take a stand, they are employees of teams that cannot be denied participation because it is their livelihood. The UCI will take this into account in determining sanctions."
The Irishman described feeling alone in the fight to uphold his organisation's rules before Paris-Nice, but explained, "Then I started receiving a large number of letters, e-mails and messages from the world of cycling giving us support and saying that the UCI should draw a line in the sand and defend the law. "
In the days before Paris-Nice, McQuaid told the press that he would kick teams who raced the event out of the UCI, and he refused to say whether or not he would go through on that threat, but clarified, "There is a difference between those starting the rebellion – the ASO and the French Federation – and the riders, who do not have any choice but to give in to the situation."
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