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UCI hopeful David Lappartient believes cycling needs 'financial fair play'

UCI hopeful Lappartient: Cycling needs 'financial fair play'
By PA Sport

20/07/2017 at 15:52Updated 20/07/2017 at 16:54

The man who wants to replace Brian Cookson as president of cycling's world governing body would like to cap the amount of money road racing's richest teams can spend on riders.

UCI's current Vice-president David Lappartient is challenging Cookson for the sport's top job at the governing body's Congress in September and has laid out some radical plans in a 31-page manifesto.

Among the most eye-catching of those changes are his idea for football-style financial fair play rules in professional road cycling, which would have a profound effect on Team Sky.

At nearly £25million, the British outfit is widely believed to have the sport's biggest budget and is currently leading the general and team classifications at the Tour de France.

Chris Froome is on track for his fourth Tour victory in five years, with Sir Bradley Wiggins' triumph in 2012 making it a possible five wins in six years for the team.

One of the key factors in their success has been the strength of their teams, with Team Sky able to surround their designated leaders with riders who are good enough to be leaders on other teams.

Froome played that role for Wiggins in 2012, while he has benefited from the likes of Wout Poels, Richie Porte and Geraint Thomas supporting him in more recent years, and Michal Kwiatkowski and Mikel Landa being Froome's "domestiques de luxe" this year.

All of these riders are stars in their own right and have enabled Team Sky to dominate cycling's biggest race since 2012.

Speaking to reporters in London this week, Lappartient said: "I think [budget caps] are something we need to look at - it would be better to have leaders and good riders on different teams.

"If we had caps, it would not be to reduce the salaries of the riders - not at all. But we have seen that it can work in football, so I think we must look at it.

"I know it would not be easy because of issues such as tax - for example, an allowance would have to be made between a team based in France and a team in Monaco. But it would make sense to see good riders racing on other teams."

Another of the European cycling confederation chief's proposals that may have significant implications is his desire to bench riders who fail health checks for low levels of cortisol, a steroid hormone produced by the adrenal glands that acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.

The body's production of cortisol is suppressed if a rider, or anybody else, is using cortisone, a related steroid hormone that has been abused for its performance-enhancing qualities but is also a relatively common drug in sports medicine.

Some cycling teams, under the umbrella of the Movement for Credible Cycling, have agreed to voluntarily rest any rider with low cortisol as there are concerns about the body's natural anti-inflammatory response to a crash, particularly with head injuries.

Team Sky have never agreed to this voluntary code and it is now known that Wiggins used a drug similar to cortisone, with medical permission, in his three biggest races in 2011, 2012 and 2013, including the 2012 Tour.

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