Katusha's exclusion from the WorldTour and how it may benefit the UCI
We analyze possible motives behind the UCI's exclusion of Katusha Team from the 2013 WorldTour, which has left Katusha in a cold and bleak midwinter of discontent. We look at possible effects of the exclusion of Team Katusha and the inclusion of Argos-Shimano and Saxo-Tinkoff.
other hand, is a Dutch cycling team founded in 2005 when the Japanese Shimano team merged with the Dutch Bankgiroloterij team.
Critique of a decision made by the UCI voiced by teams based in Europe is likely to be considered more trustworthy by many fans, media and politicians than critique coming from a Russia-centered team and will, therefore, exert a greater level of pressure on the UCI. In other words it may be more interesting to ask not so much what critique the selection of Saxo-Tinkoff and Argos-Shimano will result in, but rather what critique and pressure it will help the UCI avoid.
Further, the UCI is already being subjected to a significant level of critique as a result of the Lance Armstrong doping scandal stemming from the USADA report on organized doping in cycling and the claims made by journalists and former riders pertaining to UCI's involvement in the doping scandal.
By adding Russia-based critique to the stream of critique pouring over the UCI, the International Cycling Union may seek to put present and future critique in a negative light, thereby adding a shade of unreliability and non-objectivity to it.
There may also be geo political reasons involved in the exclusion of the Katusha Team from the WorldTour, since the Katusha Team is sponsored by Russian corporations such as Gazprom, Itera and Rostechnologii and founded and supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The nuclear power industry is claiming Western Europe is in significant danger of a blackout this winter because nuclear power plants across Europe have been switched off after the nuclear power catastrophe in Fukushima, Japan. Kremlin-controlled Katusha Team sponsor Gazprom has been known to retaliate and exert political pressure by cutting gas supplies to Western Europe when important decisions don't favor their interests.
At first it may also appear that the decision to include Team Argos-Shimano has been made with attention directed towards the fact that the team’s co-sponsor Shimano is of significant importance and influence in the world of cycling. However, Shimano is also sponsoring Katusha Team, which was excluded.
The UCI shows a strong stance in the fight against doping in cycling by not granting the Viatcheslav Ekimov-led Katusha team a WorldTour license - a stance strongly needed following the Lance Armstrong doping affair. Three-time Olympic champion Ekimov has been indirectly linked to doping in the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report which brought down Armstrong. Additionally, former Armstrong and Ekimov-teammate Tyler Hamilton in his book The Secret Race describes the widespread use of doping on the US Postal Service team, which Ekimov was part of.
However, Team Saxo-Tinkoff, which was granted a WorldTour license, is also being linked to doping in Hamilton's The Secret Race, but team owner Bjarne Riis may have a stronger network position in the cycling world than Ekimov, a claim recently strengthened by Jose Luis Lopez Cerron, who supplied meat to Saxo-Tinkoff's Alberto Contador in the clenbuterol doping scandal, being elected President of the Spanish cycling federation (RFEC).
By forcing the Katusha Team into the Pro Continental category the UCI may also be