Start of five ProTour teams in Paris-Nice endangered

    • Filled in News in English 7 Март 2009 в 2:18, author: Cristal
    • Views: 9 338.

    gbmcquaidunibet003altFive ProTour teams have not yet made the required contributions to the biological passport programme, and may be excluded from the upcoming Paris-Nice if they do not make the required minimum payment by today. At a press conference in Paris today, UCI President Pat McQuaid said that Cofidis, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Silence-Lotto, Quick Step and Caisse d'Epargne are the teams involved.

    "If the teams do not pay by the close of business today, they will not be able to take part in the UCI's World Calendar races," McQuaid said. The teams' contribution to the biological passport programme is 120,000 Euro. Half is due by March 5, and the second half due by the end of June. Some teams have already paid the full amount, and other teams have paid only the required first-half. McQuaid did not indicate whether the five teams have paid nothing or have paid less than the required amount.

    He further noted that all of the Professional Continental teams who have wild-card status and belong to the biological passport programme have paid in full.

    McQuaid said that as far as he knew, LPR Brakes had paid the full amount, but that Quick Step had not. "It is not acceptable that small teams with a smaller budged have paid, but that some ProTour teams have not," McQuaid said.

    By Jean-Francois Quenet in Paris, with additional reporting by Susan Westemeyer

    Lefevere resolute on UCI "blackmail"

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    Coming on the back of the UCI's decision to possibly exclude teams from starting Paris-Nice if they fail to pay the 120,000 Euro fee for entry into the biological passport, Quick Step's Patrick Lefevere appeared in defiant mood when he spoke to Cyclingnews. The Belgian outfit is one of the five teams, along with Cofidis, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Silence-Lotto and Caisse d'Epargne who face the possible exclusion from Paris-Nice, which starts Sunday.

    "I don't like this kind of blackmail from the UCI and Pat McQuaid. I don't accept blackmail from anyone, McQuaid, ASO, not even Osama bin Laden!" Lefevere told Cyclingnews.

    The team manager has been critical of the UCI in the past during their spat with Tour de France organisers ASO and said this decision had left him frustrated. "The UCI's tone is completely wrong in these circumstances. We've already paid 30,000 euros and proposed that we pay outstanding amount in installments. The next one being on April 1st and then another in July. What business pays for something in advance like this?"

    Lefevere was also willing to take the matter to a higher body if a twelfth hour resolution could not be met. "I have no problems with taking this to the courts to seek damages if we're not allowed to race tomorrow [sic]. The UCI can't turn around two days before the race and blackmail us like this, not with all the delays and problems they've had with the biological passport in the past. We'll be turning up for the race tomorrow, you can count on that."

    Vaughters lends his support

    Lefevere, a former president of the teams association AIGCP, received support from Jonathan Vaughters, who assumed the leadership role in that organisation this year.

    Vaughters was confident that the teams and UCI would come to an agreement prior to the start of Sunday's race. "I'm confident that the five teams listed by the UCI are completely supportive in spirit and in finance of the biological passport. They all take part in the program, all have had their athletes tested multiple times, and all are fully invested in the total execution of the biological passport.

    "I am also 100% sure their financial situations with the UCI will be resolved by the start of Paris-Nice."

    Vaughters agreed that the teams need to be given leeway to make their contributions for the passport program as they can afford to. "In these difficult times, financial flexibility is something everyone in cycling will need to have. Hopefully, in the future, the AIGCP and the UCI will be able to negotiate payments plans acceptable for everyone far in advance of deadlines so these situations don't become a controversial matter."

    By Daniel Benson with additional reporting by Laura Weislo

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