Mystery surrounds RadioShack-Nissan and Vacansoleil-DCM ProTeam licence status
UCI confirms it has referred the teams' applications to its licence commission - but for now it's not saying why
Mystery surrounds the omission of RadioShack-Nissan and Vacansoleil-DCM from the list of teams, published yesterday, that have been awarded UCI ProTeam licences for the 2012 season. The pair are the only two teams holding existing ProTeam licences that have been referred to the UCI’s licence commission.
A short paragraph towards the end of the UCI statement simply said:
"The teams Vacansoleil – DCM Pro Cycling Team and RadioShack-Nissan will also be heard by the Licence Commission in accordance with article 2.15.071 of the regulations."
Article 2.15.071 sets out the procedures for what happens when the UCI Administration is 'unable' to register a Pro Team - you can read them in full at the bottom of this story.
For now, the UCI is providing no further details of just what stumbling block the applications of RadioShack-Nissan and Vacansoleil-DCM may have encountered. Under UCI regulations, teams applying for ProTeam status must meet “required sporting, ethical, financial and administrative criteria.” All sorts of rumours some more far feteched than others are doing the rounds including the theory that this is payback for Johan Bruyneels supposed involvement in trying to set up an alternative professional racing competition in competition with the WorldTour and outside of UCI jurisdiction.
Speculation in the case of Vacansoleil-DCM, which raced for the first time this year under a top-flight licence, is that the team may have questions to answer in connection with its two high-profile signings for 2011.
The Italian rider Riccardo Riccò, who returned to racing in 2010 following a two-year ban for doping, was sacked by the Dutch outfit in February after being hospitalized following what was reported to have been a botched, self-administered illegal blood transfusion.
Meanwhile, the Spaniard Ezequiel Mosquera, whose ranking points helped Vacansoleil-DCM obtain its ProTeam licence in the first place, is still waiting to learn the his fate after testing positive for hydroxyethyl starch during the 2010 Vuelta.
Mosquera, then riding for the Xacobeo-Galicia team, finished that race as runner-up to Vincenzo Nibali.
Last week, Victoria Carmen Lopez, the judge presiding over his case, recommended to the Spanish federation’s competition committee that Mosquera be banned for two years. A final decision should be communicated shortly.
RadioShack-Nissan, meanwhile, has applied to race under Leopard Trek’s existing ProTeam licence following the effective merger of those two teams. Again, there is no hint of what the problem might be.
In September, police in Luxembourg raided the home of Flavio Becca, the Italian-born businessman behind Leopard Trek who ploughed a reported €15 million into the team this year and who is set to continue his backing, albeit at a lower level, next year.
While there was no hint that Leopard-Trek might have been one of the business interests of Mr Becca that were being investigated by the Luxembourg authorities in relation to what appears to be tax-related issues, it may be one reason why RadioShack-Nissan’s application has been referred to the licence commission.
As in 2011, a total of 18 ProTeam licences, which give teams automatic entry to all UCI World Calendar races, will be awarded for 2012. Existing ProTeam outfits Astana, BMC, Garmin-Cervelo, Lampre-ISD, Liquigas-Cannondale, Movistar, Rabobank and Sky have all had their status confirmed for next year.
Applications from the new Australian team GreenEdge and Belgium’s Lotto Cycling Project will also be heard by the UCI’s licence commission, as will those for the renewal of ProTeam licences from Katusha, Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Saxo Bank-Sungard.
Existing ProTeam teams Euskaltel-Euskadi and AG2R-La Mondiale, which failed to secure a top 15 placing in the UCI’s sporting value ranking, will also be called before the commission.
Those two teams are vying with current Professional Continental teams Europcar and FDJ for the three remaining ProTeam licences, with the other team ranked between 16th and 20th position, Geox-TMC, hoping at best to secure Professional Continental status providing it can find a replacement sponsor for Geox.
Leading riders including Denis Menchov and Juan Jose Cobo have already been told they can seek alternative teams for 2012, although the timing of Geox’s announcement last month means that most rival outfits would already have finalised their 2012 rosters and budgets.
Yesterday, the UCI also confirmed the identities of fifteen teams that have secured Professional Continental status for the forthcoming season. Those are, in alphabetical order, Accent Jobs-Willems Veranda’s, Androni Giocattoli, Acqua & Sapone, Bretagne-Schuller, Caja Rural, Cofidis, Colnago-CSF Inox, Colombia-Coldeportes, Landbouwkrediet, Project 1t4i (formerly Skil-Shimano), Saur-Sojasun, Spidertech powered by C10, Team Netapp, Topsport Vlaanderen-Mercator and UnitedHealthCare Pro Cycling Team.
If the UCI administration decides that it is unable to register the UCI ProTeam, it will notify the
licence holder and the paying agent. Unless the holder renounces the licence, the UCI administration
will refer the case to the licence commission:
1. The licence commission summons the UCI ProTeam to a hearing with a minimum of 10 days' notice, unless otherwise agreed with the UCI ProTeam;
2. The applicant must lodge any documents in support of his registration application to the commission in three copies, with one copy to the UCI, at least 5 days before the date of the hearing. Documents lodged after this deadline shall be automatically disregarded;
3. At least 5 days before the date of hearing, the UCI ProTeam shall notify the licence commission and the UCI of the identity of those persons who will represent him or attend the hearing. The licence commission may refuse to hear any persons not notified within this time;
4. The UCI may participate in the hearing. The auditor appointed by the UCI may be heard at the request of the UCI ProTeam, the UCI or the licence commission;
5. The licence commission shall apply the assessment criteria set out in article 2.15.011a ff.
Should the licence commission refuse the registration, the UCI ProTeam's licence is automatically withdrawn. The decision is subject to appeal to the CAS. Furthermore, the licence commission will pass on the application documentation to the UCI administration so that the latter can assess the possibility of registering the team as a professional continental team.
The UCI ProTeam shall be represented before the licence commission by the licence holder or, with the agreement of the latter, by the paying agent