Katusha hit with new blow
Russian cycling team Katusha suffered a new blow on Tuesday as they were not invited as one of the wildcards for this year's Tour of Italy.
Katusha, who have been invited to three other Italian races including the Milan-SanRemo, are presently taking the case of their exclusion from the WorldTour elite teams by the sport's governing body International Cycling Union (UCI) to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Their exclusion from the list leaves them at the mercy of the organisers of the major Tours as to whether they are invited to compete or not.
Katusha enjoyed a successful season last year largely thanks to veteran Spaniard Joaquim Rodriguez who finished the year top of the WorldTour rankings.
However, another ramification from the UCI License Commission's decision is that it is reported 33-year-old Rodriguez - who was second in the Tour of Italy last year, only losing his overall lead on the final day - is seeking to terminate his contract with the team.
The team, which is managed by Russian Viatcheslav Ekimov, a former teammate of the disgraced rider Lance Armstrong, had expressed its total surprise in being excluded and blasted the UCI for "a complete violation of ethical sporting principles".
In November the Association of Race Organisers warned it would only consider handing out invitations to teams which, unlike Katusha, had signed up to the anti-doping charter - the Movement for Credible Cycling.
Aside from sporting performance, the UCI's Licenses Commission also takes ethical and financial criteria into account.