The International Cycling Union (UCI) has sent a letter to the ProTour teams that have voiced their commitment to race Paris-Nice, one of the races owned by Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO), the organiser of the Tour de France. On Wednesday, the International Association of Professional Cycling teams (AIGCP) announced that a unanimous decision between the teams had been reached to support participation in Paris-Nice. The decision, another round in the ongoing dispute between the UCI and Grand Tour organisers, comes after the UCI asked all professional teams to boycott this year's event, which is planned to run under sanctioning of the French Cycling Federation instead of the UCI and "under the exclusive jurisdiction of French law."
In the letter to the teams, the UCI president Pat McQuaid cautions the teams over the participation contract they have to sign with ASO in order to race. According to the French press agency AFP, the contract includes a clause which obliges a team to "immediately exclude from the race those who could damage the image of the event or the organiser."
This clause has alerted McQuaid, who wrote in his letter, "A simple doping rumour around a rider or member of staff would be enough for ASO to exclude the person or the entire team: there is no control be a neutral person or instance as there would be under UCI rules. You are being refused this elemental right.
"ASO will determine itself the reasons for exclusion, for which it also holds the determining power: it is judge and party at the same time," the UCI president added.
The AIGCP is holding an executive committee meeting on Friday to examine the participation contract, which has to be signed and returned to ASO until Tuesday next week to be valid. Race director Christian Prudhomme is "personally well aware of the trouble that this situation could cause you," he wrote to the teams when sending them the contract, "but I can assure you that our will is to preserve the reputation of competitions that have made the history of cycling, in the interest of all."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of the ProTour-Grand Tours split
October 4, 2008 - New ASO chief to maintain values
September 26, 2008 - UCI declares peace, appoints new VP
August 30, 2008 - UCI re-signs five ProTour races
August 22, 2008 - ProTour: Bouncing back or lame duck?
August 19, 2008 - Stapleton analyses 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - Feedback on 'world calendar'
August 18, 2008 - UCI announces 'world calendar'