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International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid has broken off discussions with Tour de France owners ASO over the future framework of the ProTour. In a letter sent last Friday to ASO president Patrice Clerc, McQuaid wrote: "You yourselves have decided to suppress the conditions for a peaceful debate about the ProTour."
In the letter that was leaked to French press agency AFP, McQuaid said that he had been willing to recommence discussions over the ProTour with ASO, but had been persuaded otherwise by recent comments made by Clerc and others. "The family of cycling. have all been subjected to an alarmist discussion about doping, garnished with the suggested implication that ASO and the World Anti-Doping Agency are walking hand in hand, and that the situation that you describe stems from the supposed attitude of the UCI."
McQuaid's comments come partly in response to Clerc's suggestion made last week that conditions be put in place so that retroactive testing could be carried on test samples. McQuaid implied that this suggestion was based more on the effect it created in the media than being a credible step forward in the fight against doping.
"In these conditions, I can't see the point of us meeting and negotiating for the moment," wrote McQuaid, who added that he would be asking for a urgent meeting of the UCI's ProTour Council in order to "take appropriate decisions following this development".
McQuaid also mentioned that several team managers and other staff had mentioned their "surprise" and "indignation" about Clerc's comments, made during last Thursday's Tour presentation. Clerc has also condemned the "attempt to put in place a closed system", with the ProTour open to just a selected group of teams. ASO has been demanding that some form of promotion/relegation system be established for the ProTour.
ASO has also met with WADA chief Dick Pound to discuss ways to increase the number of out-of-competition tests carried out on athletes before major races such as the Tour. An agreement between these two organisations clearly sidesteps the regulatory authority of the UCI.
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