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Cycling Union rejects Phonak licence appeal

Phonak cyclists race to the finishing line during this year's Tour of Spain Keystone

Doping scandals have cost the Swiss cycling team, Phonak, a place on next year’s ProTour circuit, which includes the world's biggest cycling events.

This content was published on November 30, 2004 - 12:00

On Tuesday the International Cycling Union (UCI) rejected an appeal by Phonak to have its racing licence reinstated.

The UCI’s licences commission upheld an earlier decision to deny the Swiss team a licence following three positive doping tests involving Phonak cyclists.

Phonak has the right to appeal against the decision at the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Lorenz Schäfli, the head of Swiss Cycling, described the decision as a “disaster”.

“The organisers of the big Swiss races will find it much harder to attract backing without a national team. Spectators will also be less interested,” Schäfli told swissinfo.

“It is also bad for the image of sport in Switzerland. Young people will lose their role models. They always used to look to Phonak.”

Schäfli said it wasn't clear if the ruling would apply to the prestigious Tour de France. He said it was not known whether this race would form part of ProTour.

Dark day

Phonak, which defended its position at a hearing before the commission last week, said it “very much regretted” the UCI's decision.

In a statement, the team described the verdict as a “dark day for Swiss and international cycling”.

“The fact is that without a ProTour licence, very big question marks hang over the continued existence of the team.”

Phonak managers are due to meet next week to decide what steps to take in light of the ruling.

In a statement confirming its ruling, the UCI criticised the way Phonak team managers handled a succession of doping incidents.

“It is the attitude of those in charge of the team when faced with the news of these cases that has raised serious concerns,” said the UCI.

In its earlier ruling on November 22, the UCI concluded that Phonak had not “organised itself in such a way as to combat doping effectively”.

It added that Phonak's admission to the ProTour would “harm the image of cycling as a sport”.

Doping tests

Phonak is currently contesting the validity of two tests on American Olympic time-trial champion Tyler Hamilton and Spain’s Santiago Perez, both of whom failed a newly-introduced test for blood doping.

Hamilton's contract with Phonak had been due to expire at the end of 2005. But the licences commission said last week that the team had already severed ties with the cyclist.

Hamilton, who has always denied the blood-doping claims, confirmed the move on his website.

“After many discussions with team management, we concluded together that it would not be possible for the team to continue at the level we hoped with my name on the roster,” he said.

In July Swiss rider Oscar Camenzind, who also raced for Phonak, announced his retirement after testing positive for the performance-enhancing drug, EPO, shortly before the Olympic Games.

Phonak, which manufactures hearing aids, is Switzerland’s only professional cycling team.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Phonak is Switzerland's only professional cycling team.
It has been denied a place on next year's ProTour after losing an appeal to the International Cycling Union.
Phonak now has the right to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

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