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No Olympic bans for Tour riders

Pat McQuaid at the 2007 Tour de France

Pat McQuaid at the 2007 Tour de France (Image credit: AFP)

With Tour de France organiser Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) announcing this week that it will be holding the July event under the aegis of the French federation (FFC), the world governing body of cycling International Cycling Union (UCI) responded with a warning that "riders and teams will, by participating, expose themselves to sanctions."

Similarly to events after the Paris-Nice stage race in March, which ASO also carried out with the help of the FFC, observers now ask what these sanctions could be. But UCI president Pat McQuaid assured AP that the measures would not include a ban from the Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

"It's in our capacity but it's not in our heart to sanction athletes that have prepared for four years for an Olympic Games," McQuaid said on Wednesday. "No matter how grave the situation might be, or how disloyal we feel the French federation has been to the UCI, I don't see the Olympic Games being touched."

Several riders opted out of Paris-Nice after McQuaid had threatened riders with ineligibility for the Olympics, should they race. The UCI later initiated disciplinary action against Jean Pitallier, the French federation president, and French riders asked themselves if this would mean their federation was out of the Games altogether.

But these fears were dismissed. While the UCI's next step in the disciplinary action process will be decided at a meeting of the 19-member management board in Copenhagen, Denmark, next week, McQuaid assured that, "I don't think there will be any big dramas between now and the Tour de France. Beijing will take place and it will be a wonderful event for cycling and the UCI as well, I hope."

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