Phonak to appeal Pro Tour decision

After their entry into the Pro Tour was blocked, Phonak are preparing to appeal the decision asking

After their entry into the Pro Tour was blocked, Phonak are preparing to appeal the decision asking
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Following the announcement over the weekend that Phonak's place in next season's Pro Tour has been blocked by the International Cycling Union (UCI), the Swiss team itself announced that it is going to appeal against the decision at a meeting with UCI's licensing commission next Monday in Lausanne. Contacted by L'Equipe, Phonak team boss Urs Freuler said the reason's for his team's rejection "is not very clear", although he recognised that decision was related to the organisation's anti-doping stance. Three of Phonak's leading riders tested positive in the latter part of this season - Oscar Camenzind for EPO prior to the Athens Olympics, Olympic time trial champion Tyler Hamilton for blood doping at the Vuelta, and Vuelta runner-up Santiago Perez also for blood doping following the Vuelta. According to Freuler, the licensing commission's president, Pierre Zapelli, had challenged Phonak's stance on doping. "He said to us: 'In the face of these three cases, what have you done?' We sacked Camenzind, who admitted what he had done, and have suspended Hamilton and Perez from all competition. What more can we do given that the American and Spanish federations have still not sanctioned Hamilton and Perez?" asked Freuler. Of course, Phonak have also appointed a five-person group of scientific experts who have been given the task of evaluating the validity of the blood test which Hamilton and Perez have falled foul of. However, according to L'Equipe, Freuler seemed to be stepping back from head-on confrontation with the UCI and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by suggesting the group had been established "by Hamilton and his lawyers". Freuler told L'Equipe that he will be taking a letter signed by Camenzind in which the former world champion admits "having taken EPO under his own initiative. It was an individual choice that had nothing to do with the team." However, this move could well prove to be in vain as the dossiers for teams being considered for the Pro Tour had to be completed by November 12. Freuler underlined the importance of entry into the Pro Tour for Phonak by stating: "It is vital for the future of the team. Participation in the most important events must be assured and is simply imperative for Phonak." The licensing commission's final decision is due to be released on December 2. Phonak team doctor Inaki Arratibel has resigned his position with the team at the request of his family. In a letter sent to Freuler on October 31 and seen by Basque daily El Diario Vasco, Arratibel expresses his frustration with the blood testing procedure, which he describes as being "questionable at the moment", and at the suspicion which has been cast on the Phonak team's medical staff as a result of Hamilton and Perez's positive tests.
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