The UCI License Commission on Monday confirmed the WorldTour license of Saxo Bank. The Danish squad’s ProTeam status was put into doubt amidst Alberto Contador’s sanction in February for a positive drugs test at the 2010 Tour de France.
In a release, the commission said that, despite the fact that Contador earned 68 percent of the team’s points in 2011 — which were annulled as a result of his sanction — Saxo Bank would retain its place among the sport’s top teams.
“However the License Commission, whilst accepting that without its star rider, the team does not reach UCI WorldTour level, today ruled in a detailed decision that the special circumstances of the case… did not in themselves justify the withdrawal of the license granted on 18 November,” read the statement.
Saxo Bank will be required to meet the ProTeam requirements again for 2013. Contador is expected to return to the squad when his suspension ends in August and an overall win at the Vuelta a España, which may mark his return, would contribute significantly to Bjarne Riis’ bid to remain among the elite ranks.
Riis said in a team release that he was relieved by the decision.
“We respect the decision made by the License Commission, and we are of course both relieved and happy about the result. We very much think this is the right decision given the whole situation that caused the reevaluation of our license,” he said. “Now we very much look forward to putting all our energy, effort and focus back on running the team and racing again, and for the first time in more than one and a half year we are actually able to do so 100 percent.”
UCI president Pat McQuaid said that he respected the decision of the commission.
“UCI followed the correct procedure in accordance with the rules,” said McQuaid. “The License Commission carried out its work and took its decision in an entirely independent manner and therefore we accept this ruling in a serene manner.”