Russian Olympic Committee supports Katusha
Moscow: The Russian Olympic Committee has thrown its weight behind the troubled Katusha cycling team in its bid to regain its place at the sport`s biggest races.
Cycling`s world governing body, the UCI, published a list Monday of 18 teams that had been granted licenses for the 2013 season and therefore were eligible for entry in all major races including the Tour de France.
Katusha`s application was rejected with no reason yet given, and the team, ranked second in the world and featuring world No.1 rider Joaquim Rodriguez, has threatened legal action if the decision is not reversed.
"Yes, of course," Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov said when asked if the team had his organisation`s support.
"At the moment we can`t understand the reasons why Katusha was stripped of the license."
Zhukov added he had spoken with Igor Makarov, head of the Russian Cycling Federation, about the issue and that the federation was investigating the decision.
The UCI said Wednesday that the reasoning behind the decision would be explained "shortly," while the president of the European Cycling Union has branded the license refusal "inexplicable".
Without a WorldTour license, Katusha would have to rely on sought-after wildcard entries to major races.
Katusha receives funding from Russian state energy giant Gazprom, Russian Technologies, gas company Itera and Vnesheconombank, among others.