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Statement from Team Saeco Longoni Sport, following decision by the Sociétédu Tour de France to exclude the team from this year’s Tour — June 2,2002
After the misadventure at the Giro d’Italia regarding the positiveanti-doping test involving Gilberto Simoni and his consequent decisionby the team for him to leave the race, the Saeco-Longoni Sport team isvery saddened by the decision of the organizers of the Tour de France torevoke their invitation to the team to the benefit of the Jean Delatourteam.”I spoke with Jean Marie Leblanc for a long time,” Saeco-Longoni Sportteam manager Claudio Corti explained. “I told him about the details thewhole affair and explained our line of behavior. Leblanc confirmed hisesteem and consideration but said he did not have any choice but to excludeus 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 themost sought after protagonists for the Tour de France, it is not rightto penalize the rest of the team, which includes other important riderssuch as Danilo Di Luca and Mirko Celestino. It should also be rememberedthat in no official communication by the Tour organizers, the invitationto take part in the Tour was under the condition that Gilberto Simoni tookpart.2) The refusal of the team implicates some kind of responsibilityon their part regarding the case of doping which has involved GilbertoSimoni. This is offensive and has also been refuted by the official positiontaken by the team. They have suspended the rider from racing and frozenhis salary, so showing yet again their complete fairness. This means thata veto on the presence of Simoni was surely justifiable but not that ofthe Saeco-Longoni Sport team.3) If the decision taken -as has been implied by the French organizers,was inspired by the principal of sporting ethics, it is impossible to understandwhy other teams and other riders -including the team which has replacedSaeco- 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 madeshows that the organizers were put under non-sporting pressure which wasso great to force them to cancel a choice already freely made.Considering the serious damage incurred and referring to the rules inthe existing agreement between the international association of teams andthe Societe du Tour de France, the Saeco-Longoni Sport team believe thedecision to be unacceptable, hurried and without any adequate explanationand make note that they will everything they can to defend what they thinkis an acquired right.