UCI requests withdrawal of Astana Pro Team's license04 march 2015, 13:48
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) has requested the withdrawal of the World Tour license of Astana Pro Team on February 27, Tengrinews reports citing the UCI.
The UCI confirmed that the audit conducted by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL) had been completed. The international federation said that "after a careful review of this extensive report", the UCI concluded that it had "compelling grounds" to request the withdrawal of the Astana Pro Team's license.
The audit was one of the conditions the team had to comply with, when in December 2014 it was granted a provisional license for 2015 races following the UCI's investigation, which aimed to determine whether to grant the Kazakh team a World Tour Licence.
The investigation itself was triggered by a series of doping scandals, which tainted the team last year. In September 2014, a rider of Astana Pro Team Valentin Iglinsky tested positively for erythropoietin (EPO). The Kazakh athlete admitted using the forbidden substances "independently from his team and without consulting Astana Pro Team staff". Following the announcement, the team immediately terminated the contract with the cyclist.
Less than a month after Valentin Iglinsky's case, his brother Maxim Iglinsky, who was also riding for Astana Pro Team and who was part of Team Astana’s Tour de France squad that year, was notified by the UCI about the presence of EPO in the sample collected during Clasica San Sebastian on August 1, 2014, which was 10 days after Maxim’s, on August 11 at the Eneco Tour.
But that was not the end to doping scandals. Later, three Kazakh cyclists of Astana's second-tier Continental Team, which feeds into the main group, Ilya Davidenok, Victor Okishev and Artur Fedosseyev were also caught on doping.
The audit sought to look into the team’s management practices to determine to what extent the team's management was responsible for the doping failures and what measures the team took to prevent future instances of doping.
Apart from that, the audit disclosed a big difference between the policies and rules the team presented to the License Commission in December and the reality.
On February 27, Astana cycling team confirmed that it had received the UCI’s notification about the planned transfer of the audit's results to the Independent License Commission.
The team's attorneys have began to gather the documents and prepare to testify before the License Commission, the team said. In addition, Astana team reserves the right to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“We must respect the decision, which is going to be made after an independent License Commission will review the report. The decision will be made not by the UCI or a team, but by an independent commission. If they want us to come back to them, we will do that,” the representatives of Astana team told Cyclingnews.
If Astana is denied a Pro Team license, there is a possibility that it will receive a UCI Pro Continental license, which means the team may still be able to take part in many major races except the three grand tours, including Tour de France.
Meanwhile, the UCI said that it would not comment any further on the content of the audit report until the License Commission announced its decision.
By Assel Satubaldina