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UCI 'deplores' ASO decision

The UCI issued a statement Tuesday evening in which it described the French cycling federation's (FFC) decision to support Tour de France organisers ASO as "deeply regrettable". The international governing body also attacked the manner in which ASO announced its decision to place the Tour outside of the UCI's international calendar, since ASO apparently did not officially notify the UCI prior to the Paris press conference.

"The UCI deplores the decision taken by the executives of ASO and the FFC," read a statement from the UCI. "It considers it entirely inappropriate that ASO, with the support of the FFC, should have chosen to announce this by press conference, without having informed the International Cycling Union beforehand."

In direct contrast to the statement from Bernard Laporte, in which the French secretary of sports said that the UCI had refused money from ASO towards the biological passport program, the UCI insisted that ASO had itself refused to contribute financially towards the new anti-doping measures.

"This provides further evidence of ASO's wish to disregard the UCI's authority in international cycling, following its leaders' refusal either to pay the fees for registering its events on the calendar, or to contribute to the biological passport, as cycling's other major stakeholders have done," added the UCI statement.

As was the case with Paris-Nice, the UCI maintains that riders and teams will risk sanctions if they participate in the Tour de France. However, the specific nature of such measures remains to be seen.

Finally, the UCI attacked the exclusion of the Astana team and its leader, defending Tour champion Alberto Contador. "ASO has demonstrated by these actions that it intends to follow its own rules, within a structure it has itself created. This year, it will deny the winner of last year's Tour de France the opportunity to defend his title. The UCI believes it is absolutely vital to fight against such aberrations."

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