• The doping case of Luca Paolini remains in limbo (Sirotti)Source: Sirotti
It was hard to keep cynicism in check when news broke overnight that riders of the Katusha team had escaped collective punishment by the UCI for the recent doping indiscretions of Luca Paolini and Eduard Vorganov.
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Cycling Central
10 Feb 2016 - 11:45 AM  UPDATED 10 Feb 2016 - 1:22 PM

In fact it was exactly the outcome any cycling cynic could have predicted because we've been here before on any number of occasions.

When it comes to the UCI rule book it appears there are loopholes through which an entire convoy of team cars can repeatedly drive through.

In Katusha's case the UCI rule looked like this:

7.12.1 If two Riders and/or other Persons within a Team registered with the UCI are notified within a twelve-month period of an Adverse Analytical Finding for a Prohibited Method or a Prohibited Substance that is not a Specified Substance, or receive notice of an asserted anti-doping rule violation arising from an Adverse Passport Finding or Atypical Passport Finding after a review under Article 7.5 or other asserted anti-doping rule violation as per Articles 2.5, 2.6, 2.7, 2.8, 2.9 or 2.10, the Team shall be suspended from participation in any International Event for a period determined by the President of the UCI Disciplinary Commission or a member of the Disciplinary Commission, taking into account all the circumstances of the case.

So naturally circumstances were taken into account and Katusha was free to ride on, with the loophole Paolini's alleged addiction to sleeping pills and his use of cocaine to counter those effects.

Katusha escapes suspension after doping positives
The regulations stipulate that a team, once all circumstances have been considered, shall be suspended if two of their riders test for a prohibited substance within a 12-month period.

All believable of course, because addiction is vicious spiral. But it is also a convient hook for all concerned. After all, collective punishment is never an effective solution to any problem, and one senses the UCI's heart was never really in it.

Consider the enormous trouble Astana found themselves in early last year. Now fast forward to today and you'll understand there was no way the UCI could now suspend Katusha for transgressions that were on balance, far less serious.

Astana escapes UCI licence penalty
The Astana team of 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali has survived a review of its top-tier racing status ordered after several doping cases.

Still, if the UCI is unable to apply this rule in any meaningful way, which it appears they are unable to, then it should simply be dropped.

As it stands, ruleĀ 7.12.1 remains an empty threat. One teams and riders can safely ignore - the UCI always toothless in the face of "circumstance".