Katusha fires rocket at UCI over WorldTour exclusion - legal action not ruled out

Russians express "surprise" at UCI decision and vow to fight to get their place back

by Simon_MacMichael   December 12, 2012  

Giro 2012 S10 Moreno and Rodriguez (Pool Bettini - LaPresse - RCS Sport)

In a strongly worded statement Team Katusha has expressed bewilderment and surprise at the UCI's decision to deny it a WorldTour place for 2013 and the Russian team has vowed to use "all possible civilized instruments and methods, including going to court" to regain its place in cycling's premier competition.

In a statement responding to the UCI decision the Russian team said that its management would "investigate thoroughly this incident" so that an explanation could be given to the team's riders and so that the UCI's decision to exclude them could be challenged in court.

Katusha's statement makes much of the fact that the team that finished second in the UCI world rankings, and which has the top ranked rider has been excluded from the top level of the sport - when Katusha's management say they had already been assured by the UCI that the team met all the criteria needed for the WorldTour licence to be renewed.

Aside from their public statement (reproduced in full below) Katusha has also expressed its surprise and outrage directly to the UCI. In a letter to the UCI leaked to the INRNG blog Katusha's management inform cycling's governing body that the UCI Licensing Commission's decision to deny the Russian team WorldTour registration for the 2013 season is "categorically contested and refused by Katusha".

The letter goes on to give Katusha's view of how the licensing process had gone prior to the refusal to renew stating that the UCI had assured the team last month that the only one the licensing requirements with which it did not comply was the financial one "but all other criteria effectively complied with the UCI requirements".

Furthermore, says the Katusha letter, on the 22nd of November the Ernst and Young representative appointed by the UCI to oversee the financial aspects of the licensing process that the financial information supplied by the Russian team was "unconditionally accepted and sufficient".

The omission of Katusha from the WorldTour means that, assuming it is granted a Professional Continental licence, the team backed by Russian billionaire Igor Makarov, who sits on the UCI Management Committee, it will need to rely on wild card invites to be able to take part in cycling’s biggest races

Should the Russians make good on their threat to go to court to win their WorldTour place back the UCI and it's premier competition will have entered uncharted territory. One irony of the situation is that any court case would be a test of each organisation's financial clout. If the UCI wanted to find out how much money the Russians really have this could prove a painful way of doing so. The UCI is already embroiled in legal action with the Irish journalist Paul Kimmage - and if historical precedent is anything to go by fighting the Russians when you are also engaged in battle on another front is usually a recipe for disaster.

Metaphorically parking its T-72s on the lawn outside the UCI’s Swiss headquarters, the team, whose name derives from the title heroine of a Russian World War 2 song, which also had a rocket launcher named after it, concluded its statement with the words: “Katusha is ready to fight and is stronger than ever.”


Official statement of Katusha Team

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 №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 Russiaas 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 inItaly.

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.

19 user comments

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It does seem a strange decision by the UCI. However nowadays nothing the UCI does should be classed as strange !

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2440 posts]
12th December 2012 - 6:53

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"the Russian team has vowed to use "all possible civilized instruments and methods" Watch your backs UCI, that's all i'm saying... Loser

If that ride is important to you, you'll find a way to get it in!

road slapper's picture

posted by road slapper [89 posts]
12th December 2012 - 8:59

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I'd steer clear of any sushi bars in Geneva for the time being (or at least bring a Geiger counter).

Ghedebrav's picture

posted by Ghedebrav [811 posts]
12th December 2012 - 10:45

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Am I alone in thinking that this is the UCI forcing the issue around Saxo getting a license and then having to find someone to drop? The irony is, Saxo were not really good this year and with Bertie's comments (supposedly misunderstood comments) about doping (until his spectacular and totally lacking in irony volte-face calling for zero tolerance for doper) they had a good reason to not give Saxo the world tour license.

Saxo would still have got Grand Tour wildcards anyway and this whole mess could have been avoided. As it is, I'd imagine Katusha will get the invites but clearly they're not backing down.

posted by atlaz [148 posts]
12th December 2012 - 11:13

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Katusha fires rocket - great headline even tho most people probably missed it. Stalin's organ (no, not that one) - named after Katusha or Katyusha - the popular Russian song:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyusha_rocket_launcher

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [1944 posts]
12th December 2012 - 11:28

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If Katusha takes this to court, the UCI's secret 'formula' by which the selection is made would have to be disclosed wouldn't it?

They would appear to have a point, given their level of success this year, although I must confess to having performance-related suspicions at some points in the season.

Dodging the saccadic masking

posted by notfastenough [2607 posts]
12th December 2012 - 12:07

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Ha! Good article! I Big Grin

also love the sushi comment ghedebrav

koko56's picture

posted by koko56 [298 posts]
12th December 2012 - 12:14

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I just love this, I wonder if Pat is preparing his memoirs.

antonio

antonio's picture

posted by antonio [899 posts]
12th December 2012 - 14:33

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Would Putin maybe willing to trade the two girls of Pussy Riot for the head of Pat? (Or maybe the complete Pat, than it would be a fair exchange by weight.)

Unless the world explodes as of Dec 21st I could imagine a new Johnny English film. Instead of Tibet, he could climb up the Swiss mountains. Silly

http://innercitymobility.blogspot.de/2012/12/christmas-edition-wrapping-...

posted by Dr. Ko [108 posts]
12th December 2012 - 14:52

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"Pat McQuaid, I've got a Russian diplomat on the 'phone asking if you can do tea at a hotel in London tomorrow?"

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
12th December 2012 - 16:57

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londonplayer wrote:
"Pat McQuaid, I've got a Russian diplomat on the 'phone asking if you can do tea at a hotel in London tomorrow?"

Maybe that's why, when I turned up at a big London hotel before the Olympics to interview him, the entire reception staff swore they had no guest of that name.

And the missus does reckon that I look like an Eastern European gangster in my passport pic...

Thinking

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7498 posts]
12th December 2012 - 18:15

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Simon,

Funny that because in my previous passport photo, I was told I looked like a Russian gangster. Big Grin

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
12th December 2012 - 18:46

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I actually feel like not watching ANY racing that's a UCI event any more.

Municipal Waste's picture

posted by Municipal Waste [190 posts]
12th December 2012 - 19:46

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Don't think McQ will be holidaying in Russia anytime soon. I bet the minutes of the meeting not to grant them a licence are interesting, if they exist that is. UCI wake up and smell the rotting flesh that you have made this sport and put it right or let somebody else govern cycling. How can you exclude the number 2 team and the World ranked number 1 rider and grant a licence to Saxo- dopeov. Unbelievable you have even giving a licence to a team in financial difficulties who have had to sell their team buses to pay the wages. Oh the madness continues.

posted by theincrediblebike [41 posts]
13th December 2012 - 1:03

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I wonder how Earnst and Young reported the bus sales?

Irrespective, its a shocking decision.

Ah, but that was then

posted by Pitstone Peddler [104 posts]
13th December 2012 - 10:55

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But Bertie & his team burger van get a license? Confused

Perhaps Katusha will take UCI & their 'mysterious ways' to the ****ing cleaners?

jugster's picture

posted by jugster [40 posts]
13th December 2012 - 14:47

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road slapper wrote:
"the Russian team has vowed to use "all possible civilized instruments and methods" Watch your backs UCI, that's all i'm saying... Loser

Does that include the use of Polonium 210?

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
14th December 2012 - 13:54

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theincrediblebike wrote:
Don't think McQ will be holidaying in Russia anytime soon. I bet the minutes of the meeting not to grant them a licence are interesting, if they exist that is. UCI wake up and smell the rotting flesh that you have made this sport and put it right or let somebody else govern cycling. How can you exclude the number 2 team and the World ranked number 1 rider and grant a licence to Saxo- dopeov. Unbelievable you have even giving a licence to a team in financial difficulties who have had to sell their team buses to pay the wages. Oh the madness continues.

Ironically I think excluding Katusha is one of the few actions they've taken that point to a move towards less tolerance/complicity with doping.

Take a look at Katusha. Look at their riders. Number 2 team? They are another doping powerhouse. They ought to be out of the sport on that basis alone...unsurprisingly however the UCI have made a good decision in a staggeringly unprofessional way...I wonder why...maybe Pat felt his Christmas bonus from Katusha was a little light this year.

I'm getting the feeling that Pat & co are having some trouble adjusting to the new levels of scrutiny and the realisation that they might not be able to run their ship in the time honoured fashion of corrupt and unaccountable dictatorship.

posted by Lacticlegs [124 posts]
14th December 2012 - 14:04

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atlaz wrote:
Am I alone in thinking that this is the UCI forcing the issue around Saxo getting a license and then having to find someone to drop? The irony is, Saxo were not really good this year and with Bertie's comments (supposedly misunderstood comments) about doping (until his spectacular and totally lacking in irony volte-face calling for zero tolerance for doper) they had a good reason to not give Saxo the world tour license.

Saxo would still have got Grand Tour wildcards anyway and this whole mess could have been avoided. As it is, I'd imagine Katusha will get the invites but clearly they're not backing down.

Quite, I did post thatsomething along these lines would happen a while ago. Saxo Bank are, disappointingly, a one rider team backed by the might of Specialised ,and, I'm afraid, money talks with the UCI. Katusha were ranked 2nd last year ffs AND they seem to enjoy all of the races. Surely if any team was going to be dropped to Pro-Conti status it should be Euskatel as they only reallyseem to come to life in Grandtour mountain stages...

posted by stealth [151 posts]
14th December 2012 - 20:03

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