The Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) and team Lampre-Merida appear to have reached a standoff this week over Diego Ulissi’s return to racing.
In a press release on Wednesday, MPCC said, “On this matter, in the next days, MPCC is waiting for the position of Lampre-Merida about the team’s press release announcing Diego Ulissi’s comeback on the next Vuelta al Pais Vasco.” Although vague, the statement suggests that the voluntary organization expects Lampre to change its tune over the Italian’s return to the peloton after a nine-month ban.
On Thursday, Lampre fired back in a statement of its own. “After having read today’s press release from MPCC after the board of directors meeting which was held on the 11th of February, 2015 and with this, the consequences which were reported and evaluated by the various media, the team expresses its dissatisfaction with the way in which the press release was reported.
“It is not acceptable that this type of message is communicated in this way, in other words, that the team is under observation for the announcement of Ulissi returning to compete; over and above this the team has never received any direct contact from the organization.”
“It would be good if we had some clarification, and not just press releases,” MPCC president Roger Legeay told AFP. “We have not taken a decision yet. We are waiting for more information. Will there be an appeal from the UCI? From Ulissi? Up until now, Lampre has always respected the rules.”
“Ulissi returning to compete in the team fully respects the MPCC rules and regulations, namely the article 4 which is mentioned in the press release,” the Lampre press release continued.
“This rule is in fact applicable to the hiring of new riders: As Ulissi already obtains a contract with the team, therefore this rule does not apply to his case, and for this we don’t comprehend the necessity to clarify our position.”
The Lampre statement references the MPCC’s rule — actually referenced as rule number two on its website — which reads, “[A team] can’t hire, until two years, a rider tested positive and suspended more than six months (except whereabouts).” Ulissi had an existing contract with Lampre going into 2015. Technically speaking, the team did not hire him to ride in the coming season, as he was already hired at the start of 2014.
Though suspension from the MPCC would be a black eye for Lampre-Merida, it would not technically prevent the team from racing in the coming season.