Katusha claims almost five million people support push for WorldTour licence
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Friday, December 14, 2012

Katusha claims almost five million people support push for WorldTour licence

by Shane Stokes at 11:17 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Russian team awaits UCI explanation, applies for Giro wild card

KatushaThe Russian Katusha team is continuing to lobby for its inclusion in the UCI WorldTour for 2013, saying it has received the support of a huge number of people worldwide and demanding to know on what grounds its candidature was turned down.

The squad, which had the top WorldTour rider this year in Joaquim Rodriguez and finished second of the eighteen teams, received unexpected news on Monday when the UCI announced that it had been rejected in its bid for registration.

No explanation was given at the time, and since then Katusha has been waiting to find out why the team was refused.

“In 2012 Katusha became one of the best professional cycling teams in the world, having finished the last season in the second place in the UCI World Tour ranking and having scored 29 victories. Besides, Katusha’s leader Joaquim Rodriguez took the 1st place in the UCI World Tour individual ranking, becoming the best cyclist of the world and a vivid example for young Russian athletes who are only in the beginning of their cycling career,” it said in a statement.

The team argues that lacking a WorldTour licence means that Russia will itself have fewer chances to perform and to win, and that this in turn will lead to a drop in popularity of cycling as a sport and in Russia. It blasts the governing body for the delay in receiving clarification.

“The total silence from UCI and absence of reasons for Team Katusha’s 2013 professional license refusal completely undermines the image of the UCI, the organization,” it rails, “whose activity is supposed to be aimed at the development and promotion of cycling in the world…an important part of which is the Russian professional cycling team Katusha.”

It refers to the ‘concealment of team license refusal reasons completely discriminating’ and says it plans to defend its interests. On Tuesday it suggested that it would consider legal action on the issue.

The UCI told the Katusha team yesterday that an explanation is being drawn up and would be communicated shortly to the squad. There has been no news yet today from the governing body on the decision.

WorldTour teams are judged on four criteria, namely ethical, financial, sporting and administrative. It is unclear which area the team has fallen down in, although in October La Gazzetta dello Sport reported links between Katusha riders Denis Menchov plus Alexandr Kolobnev and the banned doctor Michele Ferrari.

As it awaits details from the UCI, the team continues to push for a reversal of the decision even though that would create a nineteenth ProTeam, one above the WorldTour’s maximum of eighteen. In case this is unsuccessful, the team has also applied to RCS Sport, the Giro d’Italia organisers, in order to lodge an application for a wild card to the race.

Rodriguez was one of the main animators of this year’s event, winning two stages, leading the race and finishing second overall.

In what appears to be a bid to exert pressure on the UCI to reinstate it as a WorldTour team, Katusha has announced that a web campaign to drum up support has been supported by almost five million people around the world.

“In just two days the Katusha Team received support from a huge number of its fans, journalists, politicians, culture figures and simply Internet users, who expressed their protest against injustice,” it said.


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