Tour de France revoke invitation to Saeco-Longoni Sport
After the misadventure at the Giro d’Italia regarding the positive anti-doping test involving Gilberto Simoni and his consequent decision by the team for him to leave the race, the Saeco-Longoni Sport team is very saddened by the decision of the organisers of the Tour de France to revoke their invitation to the team to the benefit of the Jean Delatour team.
“I spoke with Jean Marie Leblanc for a long time,” Saeco-Longoni Sport team manager Claudio Corti explained. “I told him about the details the whole affair and explained our line of behaviour. Leblanc confirmed his esteem and consideration but said he did not have any choice but to exclude us from the Tour.”
The team believes it is right to evidence the following:
1) Even if Gilberto Simoni is the team leader and one of the most sought after protagonists for the Tour de France, it is not right to penalise the rest of the team, which includes other important riders such as Danilo Di Luca and Mirko Celestino. It should also be remembered that in no official communication by the Tour organisers, the invitation to take part in the Tour was under the condition that Gilberto Simoni took part.
2) The refusal of the team implicates some kind of responsibility on their part regarding the case of doping which has involved Gilberto Simoni. This is offensive and has also been refuted by the official position taken by the team. They have suspended the rider from racing and frozen his salary, so showing yet again their complete fairness. This means that a veto on the presence of Simoni was surely justifiable but not that of the Saeco-Longoni Sport team.
3) If the decision taken -as has been implied by the French organisers, was inspired by the principal of sporting ethics, it is impossible to understand why other teams and other riders -including the team which has replaced Saeco- involved in equally or even more serious (in the sporting sense) doping cases than Simoni, will be able to take part in the Tour de France
4) The extremely quick way in which the decision has been made shows that the organisers were put under non-sporting pressure which was so great to force them to cancel a choice already freely made.
Considering the serious damage incurred and referring to the rules in the existing agreement between the international association of teams and the Societe du Tour de France, the Saeco-Longoni Sport team believe the decision to be unacceptable, hurried and without any adequate explanation and make note that they will everything they can to defend what they think is an acquired right.