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Unibet.com loses another round in French court

By Agence France Presse

Tour de France organizers on Tuesday applauded a French court’s decision to reject another appeal by professional cycling team Unibet.com over being left out of the race.

Unibet.com, which includes Australian sprinter Baden Cooke, has been left out of many ProTour races this year despite being part of cycling’s elite circuit, which is organized by the UCI.

The Swedish-registered team represent an Internet betting company, a business that is against the law in France, which is one of the principal reasons that race organizers have sidelined the squad.

Despite its ProTour status – which in theory guarantees entry to all Pro Tour races – Unibet.com failed to make the Tour de France start list, again because organizers insisted they would be breaking the law by inviting them to race in France.

Unibet recently appealed against its non-invitation to a court in Nanterre just outside Paris, but on Tuesday this latest appeal to the authorities was rejected.

Amaury Sport Organization (ASO), which owns the Tour de France and numerous other top sports events, said it was happy with the decision after what they said had been a period of “legal harrassment” on the part of Unibet.com.

The French company also hit out at the UCI, which has been fully supportive of Unibet.com.

ASO released a statement underlining the fact that Unibet.com saw appeals fail at the Nanterre Commerce Court, an appeals court in Brussels (at the behest of the UCI) and another Court of Commerce in Lille.

The statement said: “Harrassed by this series of legal procedures, which have often been led with the full support of the UCI, ASO, as a race organizer, is comforted by the decisions taken.”

ASO president Patrice Clerc told AFP he had been surprised by the UCI’s and Unibet.com’s attempts.

“If someone is to blame for the broken promises that were made to Unibet, then its not us but UCI,” he said. “It’s really not our problem. We’re trying to do our job as responsible, law-abiding race organizers.

“For me, the UCI’s attitude is incomprehensible.”