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Cycling war escalates as UCI issues warning over Paris-Nice

   February 26, 2008 – The ongoing war between the International
Cycling Union (UCI) and major race organisers took a significant new twist on
Monday with threats that Paris-Nice could become a ‘persona non grata’ of
cycling stage races.
   The European calendar’s first major race of the season, held March 9-16, is
owned by ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation), which also runs the Tour de France
among other sports events.
   Following a long-running dispute, and subsequent split, between the UCI and
major race organisers, ASO aim to run Paris-Nice under the auspices of the
French cycling federation (FFC), with backing from the French government.
   However that "far-reaching" move, according to a UCI statement released on
Monday, could lead Paris-Nice into even muddier waters.
   In a letter to all teams and officials on Monday, UCI chief Pat McQuaid
warned that the race will have no regulatory UCI backing.
   He called on the French Sports Ministry to have a re-think, and warned any
teams aiming to participate to think again.
   "This measure is utterly irregular and will have far-reaching consequences
for all parties involved," McQuaid said in a UCI statement.
   "… under the chosen format the UCI rules do not permit Paris-Nice to be
considered an event on the French national calendar. Consequently, if the FFC
insists on maintaining this position, the race will take place entirely
outside the regulatory and organisational structure of the UCI.
   "Responsibility for this breach of the rules would therefore lie in the
first place with the FFC, which would be contributing to the organisation of a
purely private event, with no links to organised sport or to the Olympic
movement, of which the UCI is the sole organ of reference for all disciplines
of cycling.
   "The UCI therefore wishes to make it clear that it will not be involved in
any way in the organisation of Paris-Nice under the above-mentioned conditions.
   "This means that, as far as the International Federation is concerned, this
event will have no classification and no winner, and no points will be awarded
for it.
   "Moreover, no anti-doping controls will be carried out by the UCI, nor will
it be involved in the management of any tests which may be carried out under
national law.
   "Finally, no international or national commissaires will be authorised to
work at the event, which will not be governed by UCI rules.
   "The UCI trusts that, recognising the seriousness of the situation, the
teams will refuse to take part in Paris-Nice, as, regardless of the sanctions
to which they would be subject, such participation would compromise the image
and stability of cycling."