Katusha, denied a license to compete in cycling’s elite tours next year by the sport’s governing body the UCI, is threatening to challenge the ruling in the courts. The Russian outfit, who enjoyed a successful season largely thanks to veteran Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez, spoke out Tuesday 24 hours after being refused one of the 18 permits to compete on the 2013 World Tour.
“The team’s directors and cyclists are extremely surprised at the absence of any justification for such a decision,” the team d in a statement. “Up to now the team, which features the world’s number one cyclist (Rodriguez) and which finished the season in second place in the rankings, had been told that it met all the possible criteria to compete in the elite division.”
Katusha went on to blast the UCI for “a complete violation of ethical sporting principles” and warned the governing body that it “would defend its interests by all legal means, including going to court”. As a result of the UCI’s cold shoulder Katusha must now rely on invitations from organisers to take part in next season’s major races like the Tours of France, Italy and Spain.
Last month the Association of Race Organizers warned it would only consider handing out invitations to teams which, unlike Katusha, had signed up to the 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.
“Purito” Rodriguez, 33, claimed victory in the Fleche Wallonne classic as well as the Tour of Lombardy this year. The Spaniard also finished second in the Tour of Italy and third in the Tour of Spain as he claimed top spot in the year-end WorldTour standings. Russian Denis Menchov, a two-time winner of the Vuelta and 2009 Giro champion whose name was mentioned in connection with disgraced doctor Michele Ferrari in October, is another notable member of the Katusha team.