The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld Team Katusha's appeal of the UCI's decision not to issue the Russian team a WorldTour licence.
“According to the CAS decision, the application of Katusha Management SA to be registered as a UCI ProTeam for the season 2013 of the UCI World Tour is granted.”
The UCI's Licence Commission had denied the Katusha licence application in December on “ethical grounds”. The team appealed that decision to the CAS, asking that the UCI decision be reversed. The UCI awarded a Professional Continental licence to the team on January 14, allowing it to race.
The CAS did not release its reasoning, but said that in its deliberations, it “did not reach the same conclusions as the UCI Licensing Commission.” Therefore, the CAS ruled that Katusha must be given the WorldTour licence for 2013.
The grounds for the decision will be released “in a few weeks”, CAS stated.
Igor Makarov, the head of the Russian Global Cycling Project and president of the Russian Cycling Federation, welcomed the news.
"We can confidently say, that the whole world’s sports community followed the situation of Katusha Team during the last weeks. Katusha Team received a lot of sympathy and support out of different circles: sports officials and the trustees of the Russian Global Cycling Project as well as famous athletes, mass-media and fans. On behalf of both, Katusha Team and the whole Project I would like to express our deep gratefulness to all, who sincerely empathized, hoped and believed that the justice will be restored! This CAS decision is absolutely objective and justified. This proves once again the impartiality of the supreme juridical body of the world of sports."
Earlier in the year CAS had rejected Katusha's application for an emergency licence. The team missed out on an invite to the Giro d'Italia but today's news may mean that the Italian grand tour may need to readdress their invite list.The UCI will now have to decide on whether they can approve a 19th WorldTour team or remove one of their already awarded licences from a team.
The UCI reacted to CAS's decision by releasing a press statement.
"The UCI will now evaluate the consequences of this ruling and will communicate further in coming days, as soon as such evaluation has taken place."
The UCI regulations
The UCI has stated that it is still evaluating the situation, however a look at the UCI's own regulations doesn’t clarify the situation. According to Article 2.15.009, “A maximum of 18 UCI WorldTour team licences may be issued....”, and the UCI now faces a WorldTour with 19 teams.
The rules seem to require that the WorldTour licences awarded this year be re-awarded. “Every licence shall be granted subject to a possible redistribution of the licences following a decision of the CAS cancelling a refusal to grant a licence pursuant to Article 2.15.241,” according to Article 2.15.026 of the UCI's regulations.
That later article directly addresses what is to happen if a Licensing Committee decision is annulled. In that situation, “the case shall be returned to the licence commission. After consulting the parties, the commission may, if it considers that it is in possession of adequate information, renounce any further documentary submissions and/or hearings. The case shall then be adjudged on the basis of the licence application documentation as submitted to the commission on the occasion of its initial decision.”
That leaves the situation unclear as to what decision the Commission is able to take. In this particular instance, the CAS has said that Katusha must be given the WorldTour licence.
2013 WorldTour teams
Astana Pro Team
BMC Racing Team
Lampre – Merida
Omega Pharma – Quick Step Cycling Team
Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
AG2R La Mondiale (2013-2016)
Euskaltel Euskadi (2013-2016)
Former Rabobank (2013-2014)
Garmin Sharp (2013-2014)
Team Argos–Shimano (2013-2016)
Team Saxo – Tinkoff (2013-2014)
More to follow...