Effective immediately, the UCI has decided to suspend the French federation until December 2008 and impose a fine of 10 000 swiss francs. The suspension removes the French federation from participation in UCI institutions. They can not, for example, participate in the next UCI congress, put candidates up for office, or organize a UCI event, such as World championships. French riders may, however, still participate in the Olympic and World championship events.
Said McQuaid, "It is a strong decision, and shows that the UCI will not tolerate a member flouting the international rules. We are fighting for the good of the sport, and I am satisfied that the sanction will harm neither the riders nor the races in France."
Replied Jean Pitalier of the FFC, "I condemn this antidemocratic decision which affects those elected by the European cycling union congress. For all that, I will not put down my arms. It is necessary to revise the Pro Tour. I demand anew the holding of a round table where the views of all parties can truly be heard."
McQuaid wants the good of the sport, and Pitalier is now borrowing from Khrushchev's speech writers. We've had a doping scandal, now we have the polemica. Ain't Tour season grand? This latest move by the UCI is more dud-smak than doodsmak. It does not change the status of any French races and riders can still race worlds and the Olympics. For their part, the French federation shows no sign of bending. Will they find support elsewhere? Hard to say, though certainly there is no love lost between the UCI and several of the other major federations, such as Italy.
What about us the tifosi? No big. Still, there will be bike racing. In the meantime, we can snicker at the suits clowning about under the big top.
Update thingy. Voilà, Italian Federation President Renato Di Rocco has issued a statement expressing his solidarity with the French Federation. Commented Di Rocco, "There is no doubt that the suspension approved by the Board of the UCI is an act of force, as President McQuaid has said. It is consistent with the line followed by the UCI over this last year to impose decisions not shared by the Federations or by all of the components involved, rejecting the possibility of agreement and dialogue... This suspension is a clear effort by the UCI to end the isolation in which it is caught by its own inability to resolve in a rational and democratic manner the crises provoked by its decisions. I hope that they will consider with attention all the legal, moral and practical implications of the grave proceedings they have adopted." From the usual source.
Maybe when he has completed his term as Federation president, Di Rocco could serve on the United Nations. We regard the comments of the esteemed delegate from Vanuatu an act of force against our nation, and we will respond accordingly. Sometimes, it's hard to take the suits too seriously.