MOSCOW, February 16 (R-Sport) - Katusha has lauded the Court of Arbitration for Sport's reinstatement of the Russian cycling team into the World Tour as "ideal," with its general manager admitting it had feared the worst.
The international cycling union (UCI) denied Katusha a 2013 top-tier license on the grounds of an insufficient anti-doping program.
But the team appealed and sport's highest court on Friday concurred, overruling the UCI and thereby allowing Katusha to enter the sport's most prestigious races such as the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana.
"We had prepared for the worst, we had prepared a plan B," Vyacheslav Yekimov told R-Sport. "But we're in the World Tour again. This is the ideal outcome."
Had CAS upheld the UCI's decision, the team would have been left with a Pro Continental license, which only allows entry to lower-ranking events and leaves teams hoping for wild card invitations to the top races.
"The World Tour is one thing, but if we're just hoping for invitations, it's another. A whole lot depends on that."
Yekimov said the two-month wait for the CAS ruling had been excruciating.
"There's nothing worse than waiting. Just waiting. Believe me, that's hard, sometimes just unbearable, and even more so when the future of the team is at stake."
Yekimov noted the ruling leaves the UCI in a tricky position: Either it kicks out another team or finds a way to accommodate a 19th team in the peloton.
"I don't envy the UCI, to be honest. ... Pat McQuaid will find this very difficult to do," Yekimov said, referring to the UCI president.
The court decision may persuade world No. 1 road racer Joaquim Rodriguez to remain at Katusha.
The 33-year-old's agent had said that Rodriguez might seek a move elsewhere to secure a place in what could be his last Tour de France if Katusha's appeal were rejected.
"I've spoken with Joaquim a lot about this situation, we've held all sorts of meetings, and I was asking him to make up his mind," Yekimov said.
"I'll call him again. He has a contract with the team, we'll speak once more."
Rodriguez is currently participating in the Tour of Oman.
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