UCI: ASO resorting to blackmail

UCI president Pat McQuaid heavily criticised the Paris-Nice organiser ASO in an open letter to the French newspaper Le Monde Friday, on the same day his organisation announced that it will open disciplinary proceedings against the French Cycling Federation (FFC) and its president, Jean Pitallier, over its agreement to sanction the upcoming Paris-Nice. In a statement, the organisation criticised the FFC and Pitallier for betraying "their obligations of loyalty towards the UCI and the entire cycling community".

The UCI also called for the resignation of AIGCP president Eric Boyer, and included the Frenchman in the disciplinary proceedings because he "encouraged members of the AIGCP to contravene the UCI rules by asking them to take part in Paris-Nice when the event is not on the UCI calendar, which means that member teams of the AIGCP are not entitled to take part in the race."

In the letter to Le Monde, McQuaid warned against the precedent set by the ASO's move to run Paris-Nice outside the aegis of the UCI. "ASO is resorting to blackmail by using the Tour, which teams feel obliged to take part in from a financial point of view, and forcing them to choose between their short-term interests (participating illegally in the Paris-Nice in order not to risk being excluded from the Tour) and respect for an institution which guarantees the long-term health of their sport."

He called the ASO's move "an act of sabotage" against his organisation, reiterating the threat of punishment for riders, teams and the French Federation, and claimed that the ASO's move threatens the "effectiveness of the anti-doping campaign." McQuaid went on to place the blame squarely on the ASO, writing, "the UCI cannot afford not to take these measures, however painful they may be. If anyone here bears a heavy responsibility, it is the directors of ASO."

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