Angry teams walk out of meeting over radio ban

Mon, 18 Apr 19:42:00 2011

Team representatives walked out of a meeting with the International Cycling Union and journalists as the row over a ban on team radios escalated.

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Most of the International Association of Professional Cycling (AICGP) teams left the meeting in Brussels while the ban, which has attracted protests from top riders and teams, was being discussed, a manager attending the meeting told Reuters.

The UCI had invited three journalists from the International Cycling Writers' Association (AIJC) to discuss the ban at the meeting after a poll showed that 60 per cent of the body's members opposed the use of earpieces in all races.

As the journalists explained their point of view, team leaders including Radioshack manager Johan Bruyneel and Bjarne Riis (Saxo Bank-Sungard) left the room.

The UCI have banned the use of earpieces on all races except the World Tour (top tier) events after broadcasters complained they were being used to manipulate races.

The Professional Riders' Association (CPA) called off a strike at the last minute last month after the UCI promised to debate the ban.

An attempt by the AIGCP late on Sunday to move the ban higher up the meeting's agenda was rebuffed by the UCI.

"Having had our request refused, reviewed the tone of the e-mail exchanges prior to the meeting and the comments made at it, many teams choose to symbolically withdraw before the close of today's UCI meeting," the AIGCP said in a statement.

UCI president Pat McQuaid and AIGCP president Jonathan Vaughters had had an angry e-mail exchange about the ban.

"Jonathan, I have had enough of this High Moral Ground from you and I am refraining myself from writing exactly what I am thinking," McQuaid wrote in the exchange, a copy of which was obtained by Reuters.

"Enough to inform you that when I have finished with the teams today you will have plenty to 'reflect' on and communication will be the furthest thing from your mind," he added.

Several top teams have mooted the idea of breaking away from the UCI and setting up their own private league, a suggestion that has been brushed aside by McQuaid.

"It's not the first time that a subject like that has come up, and I know there have been some discussions among a small number of teams about that recently but it's not something that

I fear very much, it's not something that I see as being realistic in cycling," McQuaid told Reuters earlier this month in London.

"We could live with it but I don't see how it could happen. I don't see what races they would ride because once they break out they are no longer allowed into UCI races and it's a very difficult thing to set up with enough races to satisfy."


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