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