In my post yesterday I wrote the following:
Rumour has it that the UCI threatened to pull the ProTour licenses of every team that did not go to Beijing and that sponsors were even contacted to get their teams to comply.
Shane Stokes from Velonation.com also wrote about this rumour in his original report that race radios were coming back for 2012 and that the teams would cancel their threatened boycott and attend the inaugural Tour Of Beijing.
I can now confirm that this rumour is true.
The UCI individually and directly contacted the marketing personnel of key sponsors of cycling teams. This was also done in isolation so as each individual sponsor would not know that others had also been contacted. The UCI wanted to tell them that if their team didn’t race in Beijing, their license would be removed and that they should also consider removing the team management who were making such unreasonable threats to the Tour Of Beijing.
Further to this, the UCI claimed that pulling out of the Beijing Tour would result in direct involvement from the Chinese government who would hurt the sponsor’s business interest in China itself.
The understandable reaction from those individuals contacted was to panic and urge the teams to comply with the request by the UCI to call off the boycott.
Frankly, this is unacceptable behaviour in any sphere of life. On Pat McQuaid’s watch, and to facilitate a race which he has a direct financial interest in, the UCI is now resorting to threats, bullying and coercion. These kind of tactics should be below any organisation, least of all a governing body whose only interests should be of a sporting nature.
The actions of the UCI are nothing short of appalling. There is no other word for it but thuggery and, like doping, it should have no place in cycling. Heads must roll.