On the heels of Monday’s news that it would not be receiving a WorldTour license in 2013 — but without an explanation as to the reasons why — the Russian Katusha team of world number-one rider Joaquim Rodríguez released a stern press statement that it would “defend its interests”, including taking the UCI to court.
Teams that were awarded WorldTour licenses on Monday by the UCI license commission included French team FDJ, Dutch team Argos-Shimano, and the Saxo-Tinkoff squad of Spaniard Alberto Contador, whose WorldTour points are invalid due to his doping suspension earlier this year.
Katusha, which ended the season ranked second in the WorldTour rankings behind Sky, was the only team of the 2012 WorldTour to miss out on a renewed license.
In its statement Monday announcing the registration of ProTeams awarded WorldTour licenses, the UCI wrote of the Katusha decision: “The request from the team Katusha for registration in first division has been rejected. In accordance with UCI regulations, this team’s application has been forwarded to the UCI administration, so that the latter may assess the possibility of registering this team as a UCI Professional Continental Team.”
The decision by the UCI license commission puts the Russian squad in a tough situation, as UCI rules state that riders on a non-registered team are free to leave, and without penalty.
Rodríguez has already stated that he is unhappy with the team and would likely be looking for a new squad for 2014. The UCI’s decision may now accelerate that process.
In its statement, the Katusha team expressed surprise towards its exclusion, claiming that all signals from the UCI led it to believe its WorldTour license, which it held since its first season in 2009, would continue.
As a result of the UCI’s cold shoulder, Katusha must now rely on invitations from organizers to take part in next season’s major races like the Tours of France, Italy and Spain. Last month the Association of Race Organisers warned it would only consider handing out invitations to teams which, unlike Katusha, had signed up to an anti-doping charter, the Movement for Credible Cycling. Aside from sporting performance, the UCI’s Licenses Commission also takes ethical and financial criteria into account.
The team, which is funded as the crown jewel of the Russian Global Cycling Project foundation, also said the UCI’s exclusion of the team amounted to suspending “Russia as a country from participation in cycling competitions of the highest level.”
The full text of Katusha’s statement is posted below, and can be found here:
At present moment Katusha Team has no information regarding the reasons for the decision of the UCI to reject the request from the team for registration in first division.
Team management, riders and staff are extremely surprised by the lack of justification for such a decision made by the UCI. Thus earlier the team, which possesses rider No.1 in the world and has finished the season in second place in the UCI World Tour ranking, was informed that it satisfies all possible criteria required for participation in the first division.
In fact the only Russian team, where the majority of riders are Russian citizens, has been excluded from participation in races of the World Tour. Thus, this decision of the UCI has suspended Russia as a country from participation in cycling competitions of the highest level.
The management of Katusha Team, its riders and staff are surprised by such a quick change of decision, lack of coordination inside the UCI press service and a complete absence of reasons for such a fast decision.
The UCI, which has been established in order to protect the interests of the riders worldwide, on the contrary by its actions completely violates the canons of sports ethics and causes irreparable moral and psychological harm to the athletes before the start of the new season, and the delay in explaining the reasons of the decisions only shows the lack of the significance of these reasons.
In the nearest future the management of the Russian team Katusha intends to investigate thoroughly this incident, first of all in order to give all possible explanations to the riders and staff of the team, as well as to choose a future strategy.
In addition, the Katusha Team is not retreating from the plans that have been made for the next season and is preparing for the official team presentation, which is scheduled for mid-December 2012 in Italy.
The Russian team intends to defend its interests with the help of all possible civilized instruments and methods, including going to court. Katusha is ready to fight and is stronger than ever.