French federation signs agreement with ASO, claims UCI intimidation

The president of the French Cycling Federation (FFC), Jean Pitallier today signed an agreement with the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) which will pave the way for the Federation to sanction the March 9-16 Paris-Nice stage race, reported Agency France Presse. The convention, signed by ASO director Christian Prudhomme, puts the race one step closer to being run outside the control of the International Cycling Union (UCI), in defiance of UCI president Pat McQuaid's threats to punish the teams and the federations if they went forward with the scheme.

"The UCI is trying to intimidate the whole world," said Pitallier to the French newspaper L'Humanité on Thursday. "The UCI is afraid that the teams, who have bought some very expensive licenses to be eligible to participate in certain races, will request that they be reimbursed the money because they can participate in these races without a licence. The UCI is in the sport to make the rules and to enforce them, not to become an economic and financial partnership," he continued.

The UCI president Pat McQuaid sent a letter to the teams on Wednesday, warning them against entering into a contract with the ASO to participate in Paris-Nice. Making some of the same criticisms leveled against the UCI by Pitallier, McQuaid warned teams that "the contract illustrates that the teams would have little else in terms of rights other than the right to submit to the wishes of ASO."

McQuaid wrote, "By virtue of Article 4.5 ASO would take control of all image rights of the teams and riders. Teams would also have practically no rights in the sphere of communication (see also signage on the vehicles and article 5.2). This article plainly demonstrates the purpose of the contract which is to put the teams entirely at the disposition of ASO's commercial interests."

He concluded saying, "the organisation of a race outside the UCI’s calendar would allow ASO to wipe out at a stroke all the rules and regulations which have been built up over the years in order to ensure a balance of power between the teams and organisers," and warned "participation at Paris -Nice organised in this manner by ASO would be a total violation of the rules of the UCI."

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