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Pro Tour Teams United Behind Hard Line

More vital reporting from Andy Hood over at VN... the Pro Tour teams met Wednesday and agreed on a few key matters, in advance of Monday's UCI meeting where, it's widely suspected, the latest round of Operacion Puerto exclusions will occur:

  • All 19 teams represented at the meeting (not sure which one was missing but I'll guess Unibet) agreed to enforce the AIGCP Code of Ethics against itself. The key tenet: any rider currently "under investigation" for doping shall be kept from racing by his own team.
  • Any team not enforcing the Code of Ethics against itself will be excluded from the AIGCP, the association of teams. Granted, this isn't the same as the UCI Pro Tour, who grants the licenses to ride, and the races, who have somewhat agreed to honor Pro Tour licenses. So in a strict sense, the potential punishment isn't much of an instant threat. However, no team can survive in the current environment for long as an AIGCP ethical outlaw, so presumably there is some real incentive.

The impact of this? Mostly, that teams will be ready to deal with what they hear next week immediately, rather than having the issue linger and cloud the start of the Tour de France on July 7. The problem this all should solve is the last-minute PR nightmare that hit the teams 48 hours before the prologue last year. At the Giro, riders were held back by their teams in advance, but even this was on more of an ad-hoc basis; now, the teams have a system. For the Tour, if the UCI hands over a list of suspected dopers, their exclusion will be instantaneous and automatic, with the blessings of the teams. No questions asked.