Jan 15, 2013 – Russian cycling team Katusha were named in the second division (Continental Pro) of cycling teams on Tuesday after they made efforts to improve their stance on doping which had cost them their place in the elite ProTeam list.
Katusha had been furious at their omission from the top tier and had taken their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), who last week rejected their request to be provisionally reinstated into the ProTeam list pending a CAS decision on the ban.
The International Cycling Union (UCI), the sport’s governing body, said in a statement on Tuesday that as Katusha had put in place anti-doping measures since being excluded from the WorldTour they could be included in the Continental Pro list of teams.
“Following the refusal to include the team in the ProTeam list by the UCI Licenses Commission on December 10 2012, the Katusha team has put in place anti-doping measures which has allowed the commission to register it as a Continental Professional (Second Division) team,” said the UCI in a statement. The Russian outfit had started to mend their fences with the authorities when it asked to sign up to the anti-doping charter – the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC).
In November the Association of Race Organizers warned it would only consider handing out invitations to teams which had signed up to the MPCC, which initially Katusha refused to do. Their exclusion from the ProTeam list leaves them at the mercy of the organizers of the major Tours as to whether they are invited to compete or not and last week they missed out on one of the wildcard invitations for the Tour of Italy.
Katusha enjoyed a successful season last year largely thanks to veteran Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez who finished the year top of the WorldTour rankings. However, another ramification from the UCI License Commission’s decision is that it is reported 33-year-old Rodriguez – who was second in the Tour of Italy last year, only losing his overall lead on the final day – is seeking to terminate his contract with the team.
The team, which is managed by Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov, a former team-mate of the disgraced rider Lance Armstrong, had expressed its total surprise in being excluded and blasted the UCI for “a complete violation of ethical sporting principles”.