Astana & Pat McQuaid. Rule breakers
File under the more cycling changes, the more it stays the same. Your honor, today we present two scofflaws: Astana’s head honcho Alexander Vinokourov and UCI president Patrick McQuaid.
Astana announced that they have signed climber Franco Pellizotti for the 2014 season but there’s one major problem that, astonishingly, they have either over-looked, forgotten or simply decided to ignore.
As a signed member of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), Astana agreed to follow the stricter anti-doping rules established by the group. That includes a two year period before teams can sign a rider coming off a doping ban.
Pellizotti’s contract begins in January of 1014 but according to the ethical criteria laid down by the MPCC, Astana can’t sign him until May 2nd, 2014. Apparently Vinokourov and his directeur sportif Giuseppe Martinelli didn’t bother to pat attention to that provision.
Notified of the problem, Martinelli said ”We recognize it’s a legitimate issue. ”I’ll take this up with team manager Alexandre Vinokourov and come up with a solution to this real issue in the next few days.”
Hmm, there’s really no “solution” involved; you either follow the MPCC rules you signed up for or you don’t. There’s no room for negotiation or compromise.
MPCC president Roger Legeay was clear about Astana and Pellizotti. “The thing is quite simple: if the ban is for more than six months, a MPCC team can’t engage the rider. That is what the managers sign when they come to the MPCC. So we are in that situation. Now it is necessary that they accept the rule that they signed.” Doesn’t sound like much wiggle room to Twisted Spoke.
In the aftermath of the Lance Armstrong doping revelations, a number of teams like Astana and Katusha rushed to join the MPCC, the organization provided an easy and positive PR boost for teams trying to appear clean. In the process, the MPCC seems to have already lost a measure of credibility. Will they boot out Astana or will the team make a revision to Pellizotti’s contract, moving his start date to May. Stay tuned because the there is more hilarity on the horizon.
What can be said about the embattled UCI President Patrick McQuaid, who also seems to have an extremely flexible idea of rules and regulations — especially when it comes to his re-election odds.
Embarrassed by the no vote on his approval from Irish Cycling, McQuaid then opted to try and get a nomination for Switzerland where he resides and where the UCI has its headquarters. That second attempt is under legal challenge from several Swiss board members and funded by SKINS’ Jamie Fuller.
Running out of options and working like mad behind the scenes, McQuaid has decided the nomination rules need an overhaul in his favor just two months before he squares off with British Cycling’s Brian Cookson.
The Malaysian cycling federation has put forth an amendment to the rules that would allow McQuaid to be nominated by any two federations. McQuaid claims to have the support of Malaysia, Thailand and Morocco, all major cycling hotbeds.
British Cycling’s Brian Cookson labeled the actions as “an attempt to change the rules during the game.” The mid election rule change has been roundly criticized by the entire cycling universe and Jonathan Vaughters has already tweeted the email of the Malaysian federation so his readers can voice their disapproval.
Mike Plant, the former head of USA Cycling and the US representative on the UCI Management committee called the attempt “unconscionable, unethical, dishonest, unprofessional, manipulative and destructive.”
From what we can see the rules just don’t seem to matter to Astana and Patrick Mcquaid. Not when they need another climber to support Vincenzo Nibali or need another four year team as UCI president.
In the Tyler Hamilton Book , writer Daniel Coyle decries the win at at costs mentality in pro cycling during the dark doping years. Looking at McQuaid and Astana, you’d have to say not much has changed.