Vacansoleil believes ProTeam licence will be issued after clarification about Riccò
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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Vacansoleil believes ProTeam licence will be issued after clarification about Riccò

by Shane Stokes at 12:58 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Team states it is ‘100 percent’ clean, and that UCI will be reassured

Riccardo RiccoConfirming it believes that the Riccardo Riccò case and, possibly, that involving Ezequiel Mosquera, are the reason why it was initially turned down for UCI ProTeam registration, the Vacansoleil team has said that it is confident that it will clarify the issue and be given a licence for 2012.

It and the RadioShack-Nissan team were the only two current UCI ProTeams inside the top fifteen to be initially denied ProTeam registration when it was announced yesterday. The governing body said that the two squads were to be summoned before it for a hearing. Yesterday evening the UCI declined to give further details about why the teams were called forward.

Speaking to VeloNation, press officer Ard Bierens said today that he believes the UCI want clarification about the situation relating to the duo, and that the team will be able to show that it is completely against doping.

“We believe that this does have to do with the matter of Riccardo Ricco and maybe as well with Mosquera,” he said. “When the issue with Riccò happened in February, they already told us that there would be quite a big chance we would have to explain everything to the Licence Commission. At that time we didn’t get an invitation [to be heard] and we thought that maybe it was okay.”

He said that while it is the Italian Olympic Committee CONI which is dealing with the case at the moment, that he believes the UCI wants to know more about the situation.

Riccò was signed by the team as part of his comeback to the top level in cycling. He had completed a lengthy ban for the use of the EPO-like substance CERA and had been racing with the Ceramica Flaminia team prior to committing to the Dutch squad last winter.

Riccò said then that he would show that he could race clean and worked with the anti-doping trainer Aldo Sassi until the Italian’s sudden death in December. However in February he was hospitalised in a serious condition, reportedly telling medical staff at the time that he had transfused blood he had stored in a refrigerator for 25 days.

He’s since denied that and attempted to return to racing, but CONI is now seeking a twelve year ban.

Bierens believes that the hearing will show that the team behaved correctly in relation to the case. “I think both the UCI and Vacansoleil DCM has the same feelings about how clean cycling should be…that means 100 percent clean as regards doping,” he said.

“What we have done in the case of Riccò is that we suspended him in the very early stages of the hospitalisation of him, when there were a lot of questions about what exactly happened. We didn’t take any risk and we took our responsibility. The same with Mosquera, he has never ridden any kilometres for our team. I think we have the same position as the UCI, but the problem is that those two riders have been part of our team.”

Mosquera was signed after finishing second in last year’s Vuelta a España. However shortly after finalising the contract, word came back that he had tested positive for hydroxyethyl starch in the race. He has been on an inactive list ever since, even though legally the team could have allowed him race due to the classification of the substance in question. Spanish judge Victoria Carmen Lopez recently proposed a 24 month sanction to the Competition Committee of the Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) in relation to his case.

Bierens welcomes the chance for the team to give its position. “I think it is good for the UCI that they would like to speak to us to be clear to us and to everybody in cycling that we cannot take any risks,” he said.

“I think we can show what we have done in these two matters and they will explain once again what they think about cycling and doping. I am 100 percent sure that is the same way as we handle it. We are quite confident that the licence commission will give us the licence for next year after that.”


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