More repercussions for Phonak

The Swiss Phonak team's worst fears have been realised with the news the UCI has blocked their ProTo

The Swiss Phonak team’s worst fears have been realised with the news the UCI has blocked their ProTo

The UCI has emphasised its tougher new approach to doping by snubbing the Phonak team’s ProTour licence application. Of the 20 teams previously granted provisional licences for the inaugural ProTour, the embattled Phonak team, owned by Andy Rihs’s ARcycling AG, is the only one to have stumbled at the penultimate hurdle. The announcement was made by the UCI’s delegated ProTour licence commission after a day-long meeting at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland on Friday. ProTour licences will be definitively issued on December 2. The three-man commission, comprising Judge Pierre Zappelli, Mr Hans Hhener and Mr Andr Hurter underlined that the 19 applicants to have received provisional approval had satisfied the sporting, legal, financial and ethical prerequisites for ProTour licences. The implication, of course, was that Phonak had not. The panel led by Judge Zappelli scarcely needed to explain that the recent positive dope tests of Phonak’s Tyler Hamilton, Santi Perez and Oscar Camenzind had, for the moment at least, scuppered the Swiss team’s ProTour bid. At their request, Phonak were apparently informed of the official reasons for their exclusion on Saturday. It is believed that the UCI has demanded complete overhaul of the Phonak management structure. The team’s repeated protests of innocence in the cases of Perez, Hamilton and Camenzind notwithstanding, this is a damning slight on a team hierarchy which has Urs Freuler and Alvaro Pino at its apex. Cofidis have managed to restore their credibility and reassure the ProTour commission by installing a new team manager, Francis Van Londersele, and thereby recognising a measure of responsibility in the doping scandals which hit the team earlier this year. Phonak could do the same before the November 22 – the date by which they must appeal against the commission’s decision – but don’t currently seem inclined to do so. Phonak’s hopes still seem pinned to the scientific panel set up by Phonak boss Andy Rihs to prove the fallibility of the blood test which snared Hamilton and Perez. Both riders tested positive for homologous blood transfusions. Alvaro Pino commented on Spanish website over the weekend: “Regarding our riders [Hamilton and Perez – Ed] there are no official measures against them. If there were, they would be kicked off of the team as we did with Camenzind. I want to be clear that we are not against the UCI and their blood tests. We just want to be certain of the guilt of our athletes.” Unlike Camenzind, both Hamilton and Perez deny having recourse to doping. In another interview, Pino said that in Rihs’s position, he would now dissolve the team. Following Friday’s meeting in Lausanne, the ProTour commission announced that all of the 19 applicants bar four will be granted four-year licences. Fassa Bortolo are signed up for just one year, T-Mobile and Illes Balears two years, and Lampre-Caffitta three years. With cycling’s three major tours and their associated races (including Paris-Nice, Paris-Roubaix, Paris-Tours, Milan-San Remo, the Tour of Lombardy and Tirreno-Adriatico) still yet to embrace the UCI’s reforms, the ProTour calendar currently comprises just 16 races. The Grand Prix Ouest France Plouay has been added to an earlier provisional list. The 16 races are as follows: San Sebastian Classic (Spa) Tour of Flanders (Bel) HEW Cyclassics Cup (Ger) Amstel Gold Race (Hol) Championship of Zurich (Swi) Tour of Catalonia (Spa) Tour of the Basque Country (Spa) Dauphin Libr (Fra) Tour of Romandie (Swi) Tour of Switzerland Ghent-Wevelgem (Bel) GP Ouest France Plouay (Fra) Deutschland Tour (Ger) Team time trial (Eindhoven, Hol) Tour of Poland Tour of Benelux The following 19 teams have received provisional approval for their licence applications: Esperanza bvba/Quick Step (Belgium) Omega Pharma/Davitamon-Lotto (Belgium) Riis Cycling A/S/CSC (Denmark) Abarca Sports S.L/Illes Balears-Banesto (Spain) Active Bay S.L./Liberty Seguros (Spain) Fundacion Ciclista Euskadi/Euskaltel-Euskadi (Spain) GM Bikes SA/Saunier Duval-Prodir (Spain) Cofidis Competition Eusrl/Cofidis (France) SA Vende Cyclisme/Bouygues Telecom (France) Socit de Gestion de L’Echappe/ (France) Vlo Club de Paris/Crdit Agricole (France) Biciclub Azzurro srl/Lampre-Caffitta (Italy) Liquigas Sport Spa/Liquigas (Italy) Silver Team Srl/Fassa Bortolo (Italy) Professional Cycling Promotion B.V/Rabobank (Netherlands) H-S-M GmbH/Gerolsteiner (Germany) Walter Godefroot GmbH/T-Mobile (Germany) Tailwind Sports Corporation/Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team (USA)