Katusha perplexed at 2013 WorldTour exclusion

One day after learning of the team's surprising exclusion from the 2013 WorldTour, Russia's Katusha Team has responded with incredulity at being denied a position amongst the 18 teams in road cycling's premier division. Katusha's management are perplexed that the team which included the 2012 WorldTour champion Joaquim Rodriguez, plus finished second overall on the WorldTour team standings, and among the top 15 regarding sporting criteria was the only current WorldTour team denied the opportunity to continue as such for next season. Dutch Pro Continental squad Argos-Shimano has been promoted to the WorldTour level while Katusha faces a downgrade.

"At present moment, Katusha Team has no information regarding the reasons for the decision of the UCI to reject the request from the team for registration in first division," said the team in a statement. "Team management, riders and staff are extremely surprised by the lack of justification for such a decision made by the UCI."

The team expressed its frustration at the UCI for a lack of communication regarding its WorldTour registration, a process the squad thought was proceeding without issue.

"Thus earlier the team, which possesses rider No.1 in the world and has finished the season in second place in the UCI World Tour ranking, was informed that it satisfies all possible criteria required for participation in the first division," said Katusha. "The management of Katusha Team, its riders and staff are surprised by such a quick change of decision, lack of coordination inside the UCI press-service and a complete absence of reasons for such a fast decision.

"The UCI which has been established in order to protect the interests of the riders worldwide, on the contrary by its actions completely violates the canons of sports ethics and causes irreparable moral and psychological harm to the athletes before the start of the new season, and the delay in explaining the reasons of the decisions only shows the lack of the significance of these reasons."

Additionally, Katusha sees the WorldTour exclusion as an affront to its home nation. "In fact, the only Russian team, where the majority of riders are Russian citizens, has been excluded from participation in races of the World Tour. Thus, this decision of the UCI has suspended Russia as a country from participation in cycling competitions of the highest level."

Denied its WorldTour registration, the Katusha Team faces a 2013 season at the Professional Continental level which would entail fighting for wildcard selections into WorldTour events rather than the automatic entry the team previously enjoyed. Nonetheless, the team's management vowed to contest the WorldTour decision using all means at its disposal.

"The Russian team intends to defend its interests with the help of all possible civilized instruments and methods, including going to court," said Katusha. "In the nearest future the management of the Russian team Katusha intends to investigate thoroughly this incident, first of all in order to give all possible explanations to the riders and staff of the team, as well as to choose a future strategy.

"In addition, the Katusha Team is not retreating from the plans that have been made for the next season and is preparing for the official team presentation, which is scheduled for mid-December 2012 in Italy.

"Katusha is ready to fight and is stronger than ever."

Cyclingnews has received a letter sent today, December 11, from the Katusha Team to the UCI strongly protesting their denial of a WorldTour licence for the upcoming season. The team indicated that their original application was denied for financial reasons, but that in their hearing on November 22, 2012, the team had addressed the issue via requested information and documents and that an Ernst and Young representative present at the hearing found this new material sufficient.

Katusha indicated they will take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if their WorldTour registration is denied.

Text of Katusha's December 11, 2012, letter to the UCI:

"Dear Sirs,

I am acting on behalf of KATUSHA MANAGEMENT SA (KATUSHA).

By letter dated 10 December 2012 - surprisingly simultaneously published on the UCI website - the UCI Licence Commission has informed KATUSHA of its decision to refuse its registration as UCI ProTeam for the season 2013-2015.

This decision from the UCI Licence Commission is categorically contested and refused by KATUSHA.

Please note that in November 2012, the "UCI Team Evaluation Report 2013" stated that only the "Financial Criterion" was assessed as "Does not Comply" but that all other criteria effectively complied with the UCI requirements.

During the hearing of 22 November 2012, KATUSHA provided all the requested information and documents to the UCI Licence Commission. During this hearing, Mr Pierangelo Beltrami from Ernst & Young confirmed that the explanation and information were unconditionally accepted and sufficient.

I underline that this information has been confirmed by Mr Pierangelo Beltrami to Mr Holczer yesterday by phone.

It thus appears that all the criteria comply with UCI requirements and therefore no reasons may justify the refusal of the licence for the season 2013 to 2015.

Considering the above-mentioned elements, KATUSHA hereby requests that its licence for the 2013-1015 seasons be granted without delay and conditions by the UCI Licence Commission.

Should the registration as UCI ProTeam for the seasons 2013-2015 be denied, KATUSHA will immediately file an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sports and/or any other forum it may deemed appropriate to defend its rights.

I would like to underline that the decision rendered on 10 December 2012 by the UCI Licence Commission was not only an unbelievable shock for KATUSHA but also for all our contact persons in charge of this file with the UCI and Ernst & Young. I note that a major part of the members of the cycling world were identically surprised by such dramatic and unforeseen decision.

Finally, I kindly draw your attention to the terrible consequences this decision will have in particular for the image and reputation of the team, sponsors, partners, riders, staff and employees.

This unacceptable decision will obviously have irreparable consequences for the overall KATUSHA project, particularly in Russia.

My client hereby reserved all its rights to request damages should this situation not be corrected immediately."

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