UCI chief McQuaid rebukes Kohl claims

He's described the action against him as an 'injustice', while others are convinced of his guilt. What's certain is that Alejandro Valverde has a fight on his hands in the weeks ahead if he is to ride the Tour de France, and if he is to avoid a lengthy ban.

The UCI is thus far not committing itself to getting involved, but could do so in time. UCI President Pat McQuaid implied that for now, the governing body is taking a 'wait and see' approach to things.

"We are still waiting for the reasoning for CONI, we haven't got it yet," he told Cyclingnews on Friday. "Once we do get it, we will study it and see if they have competence and if it is in line with the WADA code.

"If it is in line, then we will make a decision in relation to globalising the ban. Or else we will wait and see what CAS says. But when we get it [the CONI judgment], we will study it."

On the subject of controversial riders, Cyclingnews asked McQuaid about Bernhard Kohl, the disgraced King of the Mountains and podium-getter in the last Tour. Kohl said this week that he was able to dope despite being subjected to the biological passport, going as far as to say that his 'perfect' blood values had earned him a big contract with Silence Lotto.

"The statements Kohl makes are totally inaccurate," said McQuaid, when asked for his response to those claims. "I wouldn't accept anything. I haven't seen the full interview that he did, I only saw excerpts. But those excerpts I saw were totally inaccurate and not in line with the accurate facts. He is using things to suit himself."

Astana moving forward, but is it fast enough?

Prior to the start of the Giro d'Italia, the Astana team was facing the possibility of a loss of its ProTour licence due to the non-payment of salaries. The team reportedly had to use its bank guarantee in order to pay riders, as several of its Kazakh sponsors had not coughed up the cash.

McQuaid confirmed that things are improving, but that certain guarantees would have to be met in order to secure the team would hold onto the licence.

"To the best of my knowledge, the bank guarantee has been repaid," he said. "As far as I am aware, everything is up to date with them. But having said that, it is still not completely clear. We have asked for other things to be put in place in order to ensure that the team continues and the payments stay right until the end of the year.

"In other words, we don't want a situation where the Tour de France finishes and then the payments stop going through. We need certain guarantees from them."

A deadline of June 1 was originally put in place, but this has now been extended. "We are still in correspondence with them in relation to that," he said. "There is still a possibility that we could be going to the licence commission in early June asking for a withdrawal of the licence."

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