Sun, Sep 30, 2007 - Page 22 News List

UCI to take action after reports say city will not pay up

AP , STUTTGART, GERMANY

The UCI world cycling federation said yesterday it would do its utmost to recover money Stuttgart still owes for organizing the world championships, following reports the host city would stop paying to protest the sport's doping problems.

Stuttgart had earlier sued the UCI for guaranteeing world champion Paolo Bettini a spot at today's road race start, even though he had refused to sign an anti-doping pledge. Bettini, who has never been caught doping, said he doesn't back the commitment because fines are too hefty and it puts riders in a weak position.

The UCI said the voluntary anti-doping pledge was not reason enough to ban riders from racing.

On Friday, Stuttgart mayor Wolfgang Schuster said in the Stuttgarter Nachrichten he would refuse to pay an outstanding installment of 675,000 euros (US$960,000) because "we don't give taxpayers' money to organizations that do not diligently fight doping."

The UCI immediately said it would take action.

"The UCI will deal with that in the proper way when the championships are over," said UCI president Pat McQuaid. "It hurts the UCI. It is a significant sum of money."

Stuttgart claimed it had a binding deal with cycling's governing body to bar any rider who has not signed the anti-doping charter. The UCI denied that.

McQuaid said the host city was out of line to seek a court ban, threaten nonpayment and undermine the success of the weeklong championships.

"Some people have not acted in good faith," he said.

It is the kind of rhetoric that has come to overshadow the first two days of time-trial racing early in the week. The road races opened with the women's event yesterday.

Bettini was not the only problem for the race organizers.

Another Italian rider, Giro d'Italia champion Danilo Di Luca, withdrew on Thursday after the Italian Olympic Committee recommended he be banned for four months for doping.

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