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The breakdown in relations between many of the sport's leading administrators took another turn today when the management committee of the International Cycling Union (UCI) boycotted the opening ceremony of the Madrid world championships. It was announced in a statement that all of the committee, bar one member, had decided to leave Madrid and return to Geneva in protest at the "hostile" attitude of the Spanish cycling federation.
The Spanish federation released a statement last week saying that it was fully behind the candidacy of Gregorio Moreno for the UCI presidency and denying that Moreno was a stooge set up by the organisers of the three major tours. Spanish federation president Fulgencio Sanchez has also been critical of the UCI, although the UCI has responded by saying his comments were "apparently on the basis of rumours being bandied about in the press."
In a statement released on Monday night, the UCI's management committee said: "Profoundly put out by the hostility showing for several months towards the UCI by the Spanish federation, the large majority of the members of the UCI's management committee have decided today to leave Madrid for a meeting that will take place tomorrow (Tuesday) in Geneva."
Describing the Spanish federation's "outrageous behaviour" as "inexplicable and incomprehensible", the UCI also suggested the federation's goal was to destabilise the UCI before its annual congress, where a vote on the presidency will take place.
The final straw for the UCI was the attempt by the Spanish federation to take legal action to prevent current UCI president Hein Verbruggen from presiding over the annual congress scheduled to take place in Madrid. The committee consequently decided to leave Madrid in a show of support for Verbruggen.
The Spanish federation has responded to the unprecedented boycott by issuing a statement of its saying that "in no way have we been an instigator, participant nor collaborator in campaigns designed to discredit the UCI or its members. The actions of this federation are only motivated and have the desire to bring about a situationm where the next UCI congress on September 23 elects a president in a free way."
As the UCI's management committee regathered in Geneva, there was more bad news for Verbruggen in the French press. Three days before the UCI's presidential election, L'Equipe has reported that the presidents of several African federations have been upset by alleged under-the-table dealings at their confederation congress back in May. The president of the Burkina Faso federation, Amada Diallo, who was voted out as the confederation president in May, told the paper that he had been told money had changed hands the night before the vote in order to influence the vote in favour of the Egyptian candidate, who was voted in.
This was backed up by the president of the Algerian federation. However, the Tunisian president said he knew nothing of such deals taking place.
The UCI has also released a statement criticising World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound, accusing the Canadian of trying to scupper their investigation into the recent furore concerning alleged positive EPO tests at the 1999 Tour de France. The UCI said that WADA had not provided paperwork requested by the UCI and that Pound had refused to cooperate fully "with the apparent intention of hiding his hiding his unjustifiable torpedoing of the investigation".
The UCI has admitted that it handed over a doping control report on seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong to a L'Equipe reporter, but said that "the journalists have between five and 15 of Lance Armstrong's controls that certainly did not come from the UCI."
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