Sunday, May 20, 2007

Iran 'Cycling Team' Disappear In Ireland

A team of Iranian cyclists have ditched their bikes and gone on the run. The team is registered in the FBD Insurance Rás but six of its members have not been seen since arriving here on Tuesday and Thursday. It is believed the Iranians are not cyclists at all and race director Dermot Duignam said their entry into the race was an elaborate smokescreen. “As of now I don’t know where the six are and I don’t know if anybody knows where they are. “It appears that this was an elaborate plan to use the race as a means of persons entering the country,” he said. Following contact with people claiming to be the Iranian Cycling Federation he was led to believe that they were staying at the Iranian Embassy in Dublin. “I have discovered that they are not there and apparently were never there,” he said.The five-man team and four officials were not scheduled to arrive until yesterday but four arrived at Dublin Airport on Tuesday. Mr Duignam said he became suspicious when agreed procedures were breached by the Iranians. After the four arrived in Ireland on Tuesday he rang their home federation to ask what the position was with the other five. He was told that they did not have visas and if they did not get them then there would not be an Iranian team in the race. He immediately got on to immigration and was told that all the visas had been left at the Irish Embassy in Teheran. “Following discussions with the Iranian Embassy and Immigration officials we immediately cancelled arrangements for the team’s participation in the FBD Insurance Rás,” Mr Duignam said. Two more members arrived on Thursday and also went missing. The Iranian team was named as Mahdi Fathi, Mohammad Rastad, Amir Shakeri, Mobin Bagherzadega and Mahoud Talei and the manager was Abbas Talei.