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UCI suspends French federation

Riders and events remain unaffected

Citing a lack of “loyalty” the management committee of the UCI has suspended the French Cycling Federation from the ranks of the international body for the duration of 2008.

The decision follows months of tit-for-tat feuding between the UCI and France’s major race organizer, the Amaury Sports Organisation the firm responsible for the Tour de France and other major events, a dispute in which the FFC has sided with ASO in recent months.

The FFC became embroiled in an ongoing dispute between the UCI and ASO in March this year, just prior to another ASO race, Paris-Nice. The so-called “Race to the Sun,” the season’s stage race opener, is a UCI-sanctioned event but was finally held under the auspices of the FFC, much to the ire of UCI president Pat McQuaid.

A statement from the UCI following a meeting of its management committee in Denmark on Thursday said: “Following the request by Pat McQuaid, President of the International Cycling Union (UCI), for the suspension of the French Cycling Federation (FFC), the UCI Management Committee, meeting in Snekkersten, Denmark, on 12-13 June, today decided to suspend the FFC with immediate effect.

“The UCI President rebuked the FFC for a lack of loyalty to the UCI and its members and for having breached UCI Statutes and Regulations by actively and openly supporting the organization, outside the UCI framework, of the last edition of the Paris-Nice, an event organized by ASO.

“The UCI Management Committee imposed a fine of 10,000 Swiss francs on the FFC. The FFC will be suspended until 31 December 2008.”

The statement said that no French riders or events would be under threat from the consequences of the decision.

“The UCI Management Committee rejected the option to exclude French riders from the World Championships and other international events, in particular the Olympic Games.” McQuaid said, adding that he was “satisfied that the sanctions did not affect French riders or events.”

The sanctions mean the French federation, according to the UCI, cannot participate in the next UCI Congress, will be unable to put forward candidates for elections, cannot work on committess or commissions, and will forego, or not be allowed to organize a world championships.”

Later, the French Ministry of Health, Youth and Sports announced its complete backing to the FFC.

“The support of the government for the French cycling federation is total at this difficult time,” the ministry noted in a public statement. “The punishment given by the UCI will not resolve the current crisis in international cycling in any way at all. Only dialogue and discussions will achieve that.”

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