Three prominent members of the Katusha cycling team are refusing to comply with new anti-doping rules imposed by the Russian-backed outfit, a team official said on Sunday.
The trio who are refusing to sign contracts including the new conditions are Australian Robbie McEwen and Belgians Gert Steegmans and Kenny De Haes, Katusha’s sporting director Serge Parsani told Bicycle.net.
Under the stringent new conditions, racers testing positive would have to pay a fine amounting to five times their annual salary.
“This is an internal protocol which we see as a guarantee for the team,” said Parsani. “It would be unacceptable to see a single rider putting the future of sixty people at risk,” he added.
The team brought in the new rules three weeks ago after one its its riders, Christian Pfannberger of Austria, was tested positive last month.
Steegmans is under contract to race in the Dauphine race starting at Nancy in eastern France today (Sunday) and Parsani said he expected the Belgian to complete the event. “But after that, we shall see,” he noted.
Steegmans was quoted in Belgian media on Sunday as saying he made a counter-proposition to Katusha management, under which any positive-testing rider would pay compensation to the team.