New UCI president David Lappartient continued to stir up controversy with his opinions about professional cycling, adding the desire to exclude former dopers from the sport to his desire to ban race radios and reduce teams in Grand Tours even further.
In an interview in the print edition of the Luxemburger Wort, Lappartient suggested he would not welcome Bjarne Riis - who together with Danish business partner Lars Seier aim to bring Team Virtu Cycling to the WorldTour - back to the top level of cycling.
"Former dopers have no place in the sport of cycling. To say anything else is hypocritical. All cyclists must stand for one goal: Cycling must be credible, otherwise everything is lost," Lappartient told Luxembourger Wort, using Riis as an example.
Although Lappartient acknowledged that he has little recourse under the rules to exclude riders who have served their bans from returning to the sport either as riders or in the team cars, he contends that the sport would be better off without men like Riis and Astana manager Alexander Vinokourov.
"There are riders who doped themselves in their era and who are not welcome in the current cycling environment. They have inflicted immense damage on sport and have to live with the consequences," Lappartient said.
In 2011, the UCI introduced rules restricting licences to team staff who have had doping infractions within the past five years that resulted in bans of two years or more than one doping case (1.1.006bis). But efforts to put more restrictive rules into place have run up against legal issues.
Riis himself had no comment to make about Lappartient's views, but Michael Rasmussen, perhaps one of the most notable former dopers and a current pundit for Danish television, told Ekstra Bladet that the comments amounted to just "more hot air" from the UCI.
"If he really believes it seriously, he could have started cleaning up his own French ranks when he was president of the French cycling union," Rasmussen said. Lappartient led the FFC from 2009 until March this year. "He could have begun with [FDJ manager] Marc Madiot, who has acknowledged that he has used doping.
"What about Contador and his development team? Or Valverde and his development team in Murcia? And at home there are Michael Skelde, Nicki Sørensen, Brian Holm. There are myriad of people who, according to Lappartient's opinion, are not welcome.
"But if the intention of punishing people is the same in cycling as in society as such, then everyone has served their sentences, and then they have the right to enter into society on an equal footing with others," Rasmussen said.
"You start to fear that Lappartient only supplies what Cookson delivered for four years, hot air."
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