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Tuesday 25, Dec 2012

  Team Katusha Dropped From 2013 WorldTour Lineup

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Team Katusha Dropped From 2013 WorldTour Lineup

Dutch outfit, Team Argos Shimano, has replaced Team Katusha for the 2013 season. Katusha, the Russian super team with deep pockets and a roster that includes Joaquim Rodriguez, the rider who finished top of the UCI WorldTour Ranking in 2012, will be fighting a huge battle with the world governing body of cycling.

The licensing commission of the UCI gave a license for both the 2013 and 2014 seasons to Saxo-Tinkoff along with the team officially known, (for the time being at least) as the Former Rabobank while Garmin Sharp also got a license for the 2014 season.

Meanwhile, the Russian team has reiterated their determination to fight the decision to omit them from the 2013 World Tour after knowing about the reasons behind the judgment of the UCI. The team that finished second in the standings in 2012 and have world number one Joaquim Rodriguez of Spain riding for them immediately made an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

A statement from the team said it has been unfairly treated and added that the Russian World Tour team Katusha has received a document containing the reasons of the refusal nine days after the decision of the UCI License Commission concerning the refusal of 2013 professional license prolongation. The statement further suggested that all the information offered by the team by by its opinion is complete and corresponds to the requirements of the UCI License Commission and all the positions mentioned in this document were considered during the UCI License Commission preliminary hearing held on the 22nd of November 2012.

The Russian World Tour team Katusha further added that it confirms its determination to defend its rights using all civilized ways in order to receive the World Tour license, including the already made appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after receiving the UCI document.

The UCI had registered in the first division the teams already holding a current UCI WorldTour licence and whose applications satisfied the registration conditions set out in the UCI regulations:

- Astana Pro Team

- BMC Racing Team

- Cannondale

- Lampre – Merida

- Omega Pharma – Quick Step Cycling Team

- ORICA GreenEDGE

- Sky Procycling

- Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team

- Movistar Team (UCI decision of 16 November)

The Licenses Commission has issued a UCI WorldTour license to the following teams:

- AG2R La Mondiale   2013-2016

- Euskaltel Euskadi   2013-2016

- Former Rabobank   2013-2014

- Garmin Sharp   2013-2014

- Team Argos–Shimano  2013-2016

- Team Saxo – Tinkoff   2013-2014

The Licenses Commission has granted registration for the 2013 season for the following teams:

- FDJ

- Lotto Belisol

- RadioShackNissan

The application of team Katusha for registration in first division has been rejected and forwarded to the UCI administration, so that the latter may assess the possibility of registering this team as a UCI Professional Continental Team. The UCI turned down the Russian team’s WorldTour license application on ethical rather than financial grounds, according to a report in the print edition of the Gazetta dello Sport. The world governing body of cycling cited the 2009 bans for EPO use handed out to Katusha riders Toni Colom and Christian Pfannberger, the failed drug test by Denis Galimzyanov in March of this year, and the failed drug test of Alexander Kolobnevat last year’s Tour de France.

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Monday 24, Dec 2012

  Cycling World Number One Has No Regrets Staying With Katusha

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Cycling World Number One Has No Regrets Staying With Katusha

Despite the Russian team facing exclusion from the WorldTour, cycling world number one Joaquim Rodriguez has no regrets about signing a new deal with Katusha in the off-season.

The world governing body of cycling (UCI) has rejected the application of the team to compete next year in the World Tour because of Katusha’s doping record over the past four years. The team, which finished second in the World Tour standings this year, has appealed the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Rodriguez said after Katusha’s official presentation in the Italian city of Brescia said it is true that he had a chance to go to another team after this season was finished but said he would not deny that he wanted to renegotiate the contract to get a bigger one after enjoying a good season in 2012. The Spaniard, nicknamed ‘Purito’, had an excellent season in 2012 where he won twos stages in the Giro d’Italia, finishing second overall to Canadian Ryder Hesjedal. The stocky Spaniard also finished third overall in the Spanish Vuelta in September before winning the final major classic race – Tour of Lombardy – to claim the top position in the World Tour standings ahead of Britain’s Tour de France champion Bradley Wiggins.

Rodriguez said many teams wanted him after such a good season and he had many offers but he decided to stay with Katusha after he got a very good deal from it. The 33-year-old when asked if he regretted his decision and if he changed his mind knowing that Katusha would be kicked out of the top flight remarked that he has given his word to the team and will stick to it to fulfil his commitments and further added that he will get a chance of riding both the Giro and Vuelta again next year as Katusha is appealing the UCI decision.

The UCI cited “ethical reasons” behind its dramatic decision to deny Katusha a place in the 18-team WorldTour league for 2013 and outlined several ethical question marks surrounding the Russia-backed team in its “reasoned decision,” which it forwarded to the team. The cycling body catalogued a string of doping problems within the team dating back to the EPO positives of Toni Colom and Christian Pfannberger in the 2009 season, as well as the EPO positive of Russian sprinter Denis Galimzyanov besides pointing to the doping positive of Alexander Kolobnev during the 2011 Tour de France, which was later absolved by the Russian cycling federation. The UCI went on to refer the alleged selling of the 2010 Liège-Bastogne-Liège by Kolobnev to ex-pro Alexander Vinokourov for 150,000 euros besides citing the removal of German team manager Hans-Michael Holczer, who was replaced with Russian ex-pro Viatcheslav Ekimov, a longtime teammate of Lance Armstrong.

Katusha reaffirmed its intention to battle the UCI snub in a challenge to the Court of Arbitration for Sport and said the team said it would battle in “civilized ways.” If the team should win the CAS appeal, the license commission would restart the review process for all seven teams [Ag2r La Mondiale, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Garmin-Sharp, Blanco (former Rabobank), Argos-Shimano, and Saxo-Tinkoff besides Katusha] that applied for extension for 2013, according to UCI rules (Art. 2.15.026 and 2.15.241).

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Sunday 23, Dec 2012

  Katusha Defend Doping Record

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Katusha Defend Doping Record

Team Katusha, the Russian road bicycle racing team which participates in the UCI World Tour, have defended their record on doping after the world governing body of cycling dropped them from the top flight. The team is now putting its faith in the Court of Arbitration for Sport to regain their elite status.

The license commission of the UCI last week rejected the application of Katusha for competing in the World Tour next year due to the doping record of the team over the past four years. The team that finished second in the World Tour standings this year have appealed the decision to the Lausanne-based CAS.

Katusha General Manager Vyacheslav Ekimov after the team’s official presentation in the Italian city of Brescia said the team received a statement from the UCI, explaining to us the reasons for their decision. Ekimov remarked that the team was told that Katusha have had the most doping cases among all the Pro Tour teams, citing four cases between 2009 and 2012 and added that the case of Alexandr Kolobnev should not be counted because he was later cleared of any doping charges.

At the 2011 Tour de France, Kolobnev escaped a suspension for failing a drug test after the Russian cycling federation took into account extenuating circumstances in his case. Ekimov added that the UCI blamed the team for Denis Galimzyanov’s positive test, even though the rider had admitted that it was his own mistake and said the cycling’s governing body do not do enough testing within the team for catching doping cheats. Galimzyanov tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO), the banned blood booster, in April. The top sprinter of Russia was subsequently fired by Katusha and said he took the drug by himself without telling anyone in the team and Galimzyanov was banned by the anti-doping agency of Russia for two years, starting from April 13, 2012.

Ekimov, a long-time team mate of disgraced American cyclist Lance Armstrong, when questioned about his own doping record said the cycling’s world governing body never mentioned his name, Denis Menchov, or that of Michele Ferrari. Katusha leader Menchov’s integrity came under a cloud after French sports daily L’Equipe produced its doping suspicion index in which Menchov was rated at 9; the doping suspicion index lists riders who are given a rating of suspicion on a scale from 0 – not suspicious – to 10 – highly suspicious. Menchov denied the allegations and said it was just a case of sour grapes by the French. Triple Olympic champion Ekimov,  who was awarded his third Olympic gold medal after American Tyler Hamilton was stripped of his Athens 2004 time trial title because of doping, questioned the methods employed by the UCI.

Every Katusha rider, including world number one Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez, expressed their loyalty to the team, remarked Ekimov who also added that all our major sponsors are also committed to the team even if we are excluded from the elite. Ekimov said in case the CAS decision goes against them, we’ll think of an alternative plan.

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