USA Cycling weighs in on Paris-Nice struggle

Steve Johnson expresses his viewpoint in the ASO-UCI struggle Photo: © USOC

Steve Johnson expresses his viewpoint in the ASO-UCI struggle Photo: © USOC

USA Cycling has reacted to the ongoing battle between French cycling race organiser ASO and the international cycling federation (UCI) around the participation of teams in Paris-Nice. USA Cycling's CEO, Steve Johnson, said in a statement that "We are very concerned by the recent movement of certain professional cycling events away from the established international organisation of the sport. While we agree that the ProTour in its current structure should be revisited, we join the European Cycling Union in asking the French Cycling Federation to respect the established regulations of the sport, and implore all parties to return to the bargaining table to seek an acceptable solution in the best interest of professional cycling."

Johnson continued that placing Paris-Nice on the calendar of the French cycling federation "is effectively forcing riders to break the recognised rules that govern professional cycling." He especially cited the risks of penalties and suspensions, which could force riders to not be able to participate in the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the World Championships in Italy.

In terms of trying to put the WADA-based international anti-doping process in place, Johnson was concerned that "the removal of professional cycling events from the UCI calendar, and engaging the AFLD for doping control, is a move away" from that approach. He was also concerned that it is a blow for the "UCI's state-of-the-art biological passport program. This is clearly a step backwards with regard to anti-doping efforts in professional cycling."

The conclusion of USA Cycling is that "if cycling continues down this path it will only serve to create additional instability and uncertainty in our sport at a time when it most desperately needs some level of sensibility." Johnson stated that "Professional cycling cannot survive without teams, and teams cannot survive without sponsors." He pointed out that many teams are in renewal talks with their current sponsors right now. Other teams are actively seeking new sponsorships. For the future he thought that "Anything less than a united front with regard to the international organisation of professional cycling presents an additional obstacle in all of our efforts to attract the sponsors our sport needs to grow and flourish."

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