Team Lampre-Merida announced on Monday that it will leave the voluntary organization, the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), due to what it terms, “the impossibility of confirming membership.”
Its decision hinges on the Diego Ulissi case, which has caused confusion and headaches for Italy’s only WorldTour squad. Lampre-Merida was caught between labor laws and an MPCC rule, which states that a cyclist must wait two years to return to competition after serving a ban of six months or more for an anti-doping violation.
“These principles set out by the MPCC are not possible to agree upon,” read an official Lampre-Merida statement.
The UCI had cleared Ulissi to return to competition at the end of March, after a nine-month suspension. Lampre was planning to bring him back to the peloton, but a scuffle ensued over whether or not this complied with MPCC rule number two: “[A team] can’t hire, until two years, a rider tested positive and suspended more than six months (except whereabouts).” Technically, Ulissi is in the middle of a two-year deal with Lampre, so he was not being “hired” per se. The team likely made the decision to forgo MPCC membership knowing that it might face legal action for prematurely terminating its rider’s contract.
“Team Lampre-Merida will respect the obligation to keep Diego Ulissi as employer, and with this ensuring the obligation of return to competition for the athlete — respecting the rules and regulations of the UCI — through entry to the races [beginning] 28 March 2015,” the team said in a press statement.
“In reference to the above, team Lampre-Merida is obliged to postpone its membership with the MPCC, with a possible future consideration for the request of readmission at a time when the rules of the movement, which in the past have always been respected by the team even though at times have been unfavorable, as long as the regulations are acceptable by the laws of the various bodies of reference.”