The UCI's decision not to issue a WorldTour licence to Team Katusha is discriminatory, not only to the team but to the nation of Russia, the Russian Cycling Federation said. It will now do all it can and "will defend the interests of the team meaning Russian cycling in general.”
On Monday evening, the UCI announced the final WorldTour licences, and although Katusha had previously been named to meet the sporting requirements, it was not given a licence.
“To this moment no one from the team management, sponsors or the Russian Cycling Federation has been given official explications from the UCI,” the Federation said in a statement released Thursday.
Katusha is a strongly Russian team, running under a Russian licence and the majority of the riders are Russians. It is a part of the Russian Global Cycling Project, which is under the direction of the Russian Cycling Federation.
This year the team finished second on the UCI's WorldTour ranking, and had 29 victories. Its leader, Joaquim Rodriguez, won the UCI's WorldTour individual ranking, “becoming the best cyclist of the world and a vivid example for young Russian athletes who are only in the beginning of their cycling career,” the Federation statement said.
The lack of a WorldTour licence “will lead to a reduction of chances of Russia to perform and win in competitions of the highest level. Also this will lead to a decrease of popularity of cycling as a sport and consequently to decrease of cyclists quantity in Russia. This is exactly the opposite to what the Russian Cycling Federation headed by its president Igor Makarov have been fighting for two years.”
The UCI's lack of a response as to its reasoning “completely undermines the image of the UCI, the organization, whose activity is supposed to be aimed at the development and promotion of cycling in the world, important part of which is the Russian professional cycling team Katusha.”
In conclusion, the federation said that it “considers the actions of UCI regarding the concealment of team license refusal reasons completely discriminating and will defend the interests of the team meaning Russian cycling in general.”