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Saeco Not Happy...UPDATED
 
By Manny Samaniego
Date: 7/5/2002
Saeco Not Happy...UPDATED
 
Following its exclusion from the Tour de France after the Simoni doping incident at the Giro d'Italia, Saeco-Longoni Sport will take legal action against the organizers of the French race, because according to the Italian formation, the decision of not allowing them to race the Tour was political.

"Because of what has happened the Saeco-Longoni Sport team has suffered and is suffering uncalculatable damages which they can only recover from the French organizers by taking legal action either directly or through the team sponsors who have suffered serious damage due to unfair and unjust treatment", the team said.

After the Festina affair in 1998, the Tour organization have implemented an "ethical code". Teams will be barred from participating if its riders are involved in proven doping cases.

Saeco-Longoni Sport stated that, "following the case involving the non-negativity of Gilberto Simoni, the team spontaneously suspended the rider from the Giro d'Italia and also froze his salary. Having officially decided to invite the Saeco-Longoni Sport team to the to Tour de France, the organizers of the French race decided to revoke their invitation, preferring to chose the French Jean Delatour team instead", Saeco added.

According to Saeco, the Tour organizers didn't punish Simoni, but the team overall. "Numerous other teams which have even been involved in proven cases of doping have been allowed to take part in the Tour", French team Jean Delatour included.

SAECO-LONGONI SPORT COMMUNIQUE

On the eve of the start of the Tour de France, the Saeco-Longoni Sport team > feel the need to recall the attention of the press, the governing bodies responsible and the general opinion of the public about the unacceptable situation that they have been victim of in the last two months.

As people will remember, following the case involving the non-negativity of Gilberto Simoni, the team spontaneously suspended the rider from the Giro d'Italia and also freezing his salary (this is still the case today).

However as a consequence of what happened - a month after having officially decided to invite the Saeco-Longoni Sport team to the to Tour de France - the organizers of the French race decided to revoke their invitation, preferring to chose the French Jean Delatour team instead. In a communiqué on June 3, the Tour organizers underlined their decision saying they had to stay loyal to their line of conduct which involves not accept teams involved in serious doping cases for the Tour de France.

The Saeco-Longoni Sport team has always shown how they disagreed with the decision both in the way it was made (for having damaged the team and not just the rider involved), and in the substance (for having condemned the rider before the concrete facts against him had emerged and he had been disqualified).

However what has happened since the day of the decision by the French organizers is very serious. Numerous other teams which have even been involved in proven cases of doping have been allowed to take part in the Tour de France, including the team which was called to replace the Saeco-Longoni Sport team. All these teams will start the Tour de France tomorrow in Luxembourg without caring about the ethical code of the Tour de France, clearly showing that the rules applied by organizers are not the same for everybody: it seems clear that the decision to not invite the Saeco-Longoni Sport team was only for political reasons and nothing to do with the reasons stated in the communiqué of June 3.

Because of what has happened the Saeco-Longoni Sport team has suffered and is suffering uncalculatable damages which they can only recovered from the French organizers by taking legal action either directly or through the team sponsors who have suffered serious damage due to unfair and unjust treatment.

It is also the case to add how the hard work and professional work of the team over several years has been crushed by the decision of the French organizers; and how the technical qualities of the team has been ignored even though they have shown to be competitive even without their stage race team leader.

Believing that what has happened is only a problem of the Saeco-Longoni Sport team would be a big mistake: the recent events show yet again the absolute inadequacy of the current rules; of the extreme freedom of the organizers which is often influenced by the their own needs and convenience; and of the lack of respect that cycling shows towards who invests, feeds and makes it believable.

The Saeco-Longoni Sport team will continue its battle for a more serious, fairer and more believable sport, even at the cost of suffering from the retortions of who doesn't like to be questioned. Our hope is that these words can cause serious thought and spark some self-criticism by the Tour organizers. Even the prestige of such an extraordinary event like the Tour should not allow the liberty to take decisions which are exclusively political and which do not respect for the sporting rights of who is involved.


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