ProTour: British Cycling supports McQuaid

British Cycling has offered its firm support to UCI President Pat McQuaid in the light of recent controversies. On December 1, six European federations (Austria, Belgium, Spain, France, Italy and Luxembourg) officially declared their opposition to the UCI ProTour in its current form, and criticised "the working methods of the UCI."

In a press release issued on Wednesday, British Cycling President Brian Cookson said, "I am very surprised and disappointed at the actions of a small number of other Presidents of national federations in Europe. The group that have criticised President McQuaid and the UCI is a self-appointed one. They do not speak for the majority and have not even given us the courtesy of consulting us or discussing with us the issues they have raised.

"There are clear mechanisms and procedures for the European nations, through the European Cycling Union, and I urge all nations to abide by these methods in making their views known."

Cookson then stated his support of the ProTour, which replaced the World Cup in 2005 and has caused a lot of controversy in the past three years. "We feel that the UCI have devised a clear and rational system, which sets a sensible pathway for the future. We are sure that it is possible and desirable to make some adaptations as the structure becomes established, but we have no doubt that the ProTour concept is the best way forward, and we urge the major event promoters to work closely with the UCI for the good of the sport."

The head of British Cycling also urged the teams "to fully adopt and accept the Ethical Charter and their responsibilities in this matter, and to behave accordingly, particularly in respect of riders involved in doping cases. As far as Britain is concerned, we strongly support President McQuaid in his stance on the anti-doping measures, and we understand the legal difficulties encountered in dealing effectively with such matters. Our sport, particularly road racing, is at a critical moment, and we must remain united in our fight against this scourge. The UCI is our best hope for achieving this and we urge all national federations to support President McQuaid at this time."

However, in view of his collaboration with Tour de France organiser ASO next year, Cookson added, "In July 2007, the Tour de France will start in London. This will be a historic event, in the heart of one of the world’s great cities, a fantastic opportunity for our sport. We really do not want to see this tarnished by a repeat of the doping scandals of 2006, so, frankly, we urge all those with involvement in the various investigations to stay away."

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