By Agence France Presse
French coach Florian Rousseau has blasted the race tactics of Australian Mark French, who was disqualified from the men’s keirin at the track world championships in Palma de Majorca, Spain.
French was disqualified by race officials at the world track cycling championships Friday after a potentially dangerous maneuver that effectively ended the medal hopes of Rousseau’s star keirin rider Kevin Sireau.
Eventual gold medalist Chris Hoy of Great Britain won the second-round heat, in which the top three go through to the finals, ahead of defending Dutch champion Theo Bos and another Australian, Shane Perkins.
Sireau, who had boosted his medals bid by coasting to victory in his first-round heat, eventually finished last and out of contention after French’s sudden swerve to the right pushed the Frenchman up near the seating.
Sireau went on to finish last in his heat, failing to qualify for the finals and finishing the competition eighth overall.
French, who earlier this season was sent home from a World Cup event for his behavior off the track, was immediately disqualified. But for Rousseau, the sanction wasn’t enough.
“French should be totally ashamed of what he did,” said Rousseau, who has been a coach with France since ending his hugely successful career three years ago.
“The race jury applied the rules in disqualifying him, but if you ask me they should have gone further. They should send out a message by suspending him from other competitions, as happens in other sports. This whole rule should be reviewed.”
Sprint and keirin rider French, a former world junior champion, is trying to resurrect his track-racing career, which stalled for 18 months following drug allegations that led to a two-year ban in 2004.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport overturned the ban on July 2005.
Australian team manager Kevin Tabotta told AFP that while French acknowledged his mistake, he did not deliberately set out to oust Sireau from the competition.
“There was no real attempt by Mark to do what he did,” he said. “He acknowledges that he did something wrong, and we’re not denying it. I understand their (France’s) argument but it’s not us who makes the decisions, it’s the chief commissaire.
“It was a racing incident that happens in almost every World Cup, or world-championship race, and it will happen again. For us the matter has been dealt with by the race officials.”