• Katusha drive the peloton towards the finish of Stage 3 of the 2016 Tour of Oman (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
The existence of voluntary cycling body, The Movement For Credible Cycling (MPCC) is under threat after the withdrawal of Orica-GreenEDGE and Katusha.
Cycling Central
24 Feb 2016 - 3:12 PM  UPDATED 25 Feb 2016 - 5:57 AM

The MPCC, formed in 2007 at the height of doping troubles in cycling in the hope of returning the sport to credibility, has clearly lost the confidence of its members and appears to have outlived whatever usefulness it claimed to have.

Australian outfit Orica-GreenEDGE announced on Tuesday that it would leave the group after "an evaluation of current initiatives and efforts made for a healthy sport."

“We would like to thank all the current and former members of the MPCC for the discussions and initiatives and for sincerely helping the sport move further in the right direction," team general manager Shayne Bannan said. 

"We fully support the initiatives that have now become an integrated part of the rules of the sport. Going onwards, we will be a strong supporter of seeing these and other initiatives being further developed by the official organizations in collaboration with all the other teams and stakeholders of cycling”.

That was quickly followed on the same day by the Katusha team - unrelated and for a clearly different reasons - it was stuck between a rock and a hard place by competing bodies.

The issue for the MPCC is that many of its key initiatives have been officially adopted by world governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI) or covered by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) adding a layer of judicial oversight.

One rule in particular rule has caused tension between it and member teams, specifically the imposition of a collective sanction in the case of multiple doping offenses.

It was that which caused Katusha to re-evaluate its membership after it was struck with two doping offences in a 12 month period. 

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.

The Russian registered team was subsequently cleared to compete by the UCI, but as a member of the MPCC it would have been forced to self suspend for several weeks.

"Considering the clear changes and the evolution of the UCI in its approach to the fight against doping, an evolution and adaptation of the MPCC rules would have been necessary. In particular, considering the fact that a similar rule was introduced in 2015 by the UCI, one would have assumed that the MPCC rule imposing a collective sanction against team in the case of multiple doping offenses was to be withdrawn," the team said in a statement.

"However, no amendment to the MPCC rules were adopted, creating a duality of rules with the UCI Regulations which would undoubtedly lead to a conflicting situation.

"Now Katusha is facing a very difficult position: on the one hand the Disciplinary Commission of the UCI decided not to impose any team suspension following the cases of Luca Paolini and Eduard Vorganov but on the other hand the MPCC still considers that a suspension is necessary in application of its own rules. 

"Moreover, a suspension of Katusha during a WorldTour race based on the MPCC Rules would violate the UCI Regulations of mandatory participation and the Disciplinary Commission would then be obliged to sanction the Team.

"Considering that the UCI Regulations implemented a similar team suspension provision in 2015 and that the UCI Disciplinary Commission decided not to pronounce any suspension, Katusha would have expected the MPCC to adopt the same position which would have been compliant with the UCI Regulations as well as adequate and proportionate.

"However, Katusha understands that the MPCC intends to strictly apply its rule regardless of the similar UCI provision recently adopted, despite a clear decision taken in this case by the UCI Disciplinary Commission and without acknowledging the specificity of the present case."

Empty threats and Katusha
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.

Many may not think much of Katusha's credibility, or even the effectiveness of the UCI in this specific case, but its statement gives insight into the predicament it found itself.

The choice between official (UCI) or voluntary (MPCC) would have been an easy one for Katusha. So long MPCC.

What is now clear though is that the MPCC is an organisation without purpose, and that's a positive sign for the sport.