Sporting court will rule on Katusha on Friday

Russian squad awaits Friday CAS ruling and the expected fall-out

FARO, Portugal (VN) — The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) is living up to its promise for quick resolution on the Katusha license case.

Just a week after hearing arguments, the world sport court said Thursday that it would reveal its finding tomorrow in the dispute between the Russian team and the UCI over the squad’s WorldTour status.

CAS said it would publish only a short media release tomorrow and reveal the full decision at a later date.

Even the short public announcement will allow various parties to move forward in what has become a contentious issue involving the Russian team, the UCI, and the riders caught in the middle.

Team director Dmitri Konyshev, attending the first stage at the Volta ao Algarve on Thursday, said he would wait to comment until the decision is revealed, adding, “We hope for good news. We will wait for tomorrow.”

In December, the UCI Licensing Committee decided against awarding Katusha a ProTeam license for 2013, meaning that it would be relying on invitations to race the season’s major events.

According to media reports in Italy, the UCI cited “ethical issues” in denying the license to the Russian-backed team, but Katusha officials said they were never notified as to why the team lost its place in the WorldTour league of 18 teams.

Now racing with a Pro Continental license, Katusha has already been overlooked for some important races, including a slot in the Giro d’Italia. The Tour de France wildcards are expected by early April, so tension is growing inside the Katusha bus.

Several riders have clauses in their contracts allowing them to leave the team if it does not retain its WorldTour status, among them Joaquim Rodríguez.

Rodríguez had vowed to leave the team if he was not guaranteed a spot in the Tour de France, but last week said he was considering staying with Katusha no matter what happens.

If he does leave, Rodríguez’s manager says the world No. 1 has plenty of offers on the table.

It’s hard to say exactly what will happen if Katusha wins at CAS. UCI officials told VeloNews that the WorldTour will remain at 18 teams and that a new review of licenses would begin if Katusha wins at CAS.

So, if Katusha were readmitted, another team would be removed. That would all but assure a new round of appeals to CAS.