McQuaid speaks against Astana's Tour de France exclusion

UCI President is unhappy about the Tour de France organizers' decision to exclude the Astana team of last year's winner Alberto Contador. The organizers announced their decision last week, and McQuaid criticized the decision and accused organizers of singling out Astana with the team's non-selection.

"It would be a tragedy if Contador is not allowed to defend his title," said McQuaid to El Pais. "It is a complete disgrace. We will do all we can to ensure Contador rides in the Tour."

What may be next is legal action. "We need to take action, which we'll do as a consequence of their decisions," McQuaid said to the Associated Press by phone. "The reason goes completely against sport. ... There is no way that UCI can allow it. It's up to our legal department to study the situation and then begin discussions with ASO before action can be taken."

Astana seems to have taken over the role previously occupied by Unibet in 2007, as a major pawn in the UCI and Grand Tour organizer power struggle.

"How can you have the best riders in the world not take part? It's a joke. It's absurd," said McQuaid to the Associated Press. He was referring not just to Contador, but also to his team-mates Levi Leipheimer and Andreas Klöden. Leipheimer finished in third place, on the podium last year after Australia's Cadel Evans. McQuaid also expressed his sympathy for Kazakh people, who hail from the nation that sponsors the Astana team.

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