- legal limbo leaves riders and sport waiting
By Shane Stokes
The UCI has reiterated it has the right to take the Ivan Basso case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if it decides that the final judgment by Italian authorities is not satisfactory, according to UCI President, Pat McQuaid.
The Italian cyclist announced this week that he was splitting from Team CSC and would look for a contract elsewhere. The Italian was linked to possible deals with Milram and Discovery Channel, but both squads then stated that they would not sign him while doubt still surrounds his role in Operación Puerto.
Although a freeze on Operación Puerto-related sporting sanctions ordered by the Spanish justice system means Basso is in a legal limbo, it's apparent he can resume racing, but he does not have a team. As McQuaid said, "everything is unfortunately on hold due to the recent decision of the (Spanish) judge. He said that for now, the 500 pages supporting the 44 page report which we got in late June are not to be used in a disciplinary process."
As Basso's case has been temporarily shelved, in recent days speculation has linked him to a possible move to Barloworld, a squad whose non-ProTour status would remove them from the constraints of the Code of Ethics. But this same Code came under fire last weekend at the general meeting of the Association of Professional Cyclists (CPA), who stated its opposition to its charter.
According to the CPA, the AIGCP code, "showed how arbitrary, incoherent and inapplicable it is: some riders were prosecuted as if they were delinquents ... whereas some others, being the subject of procedures, continue to race."
It called on the AIGCP to modify the code, removing from it "all provisions and standards which make it possible for the trade teams to exclude..., or even only to suspend, riders arbitrarily on the only basis of suspicions or deductions." It requested a clear answer on this before the start of the 2007 season.
McQuaid believes abandoning the Code would be a mistake. "I can understand the CPA's concerns but in the current situation and with the current difficulties facing cycling, we have to be realistic and do everything we can to regain the credibility of our sport," he stated.
"If that means going beyond what is normally accepted, then so be it. We have to accept that. As far as the UCI is concerned, it is up to them [the AIGCP] to decide what they want to do in relation with it. But I think the ProTour teams are completely committed to the code of conduct and I believe that is the way it is going to stay."