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by Shane Stokes
October 7, 2014
Weekend predictions that the Astana team and its rider Maxim Iglinskiy would, in fact, not have his B sample checked proved to be correct, with the team announcing today that the rider would not dispute his positive A sample test for EPO.
“Astana Pro Team has moved to act upon the decision by rider Maxim Iglinskiy not to request a counter-analysis of his positive control from 1 August 2014,” the team stated in a short press release Monday evening.
“In doing so the team conforms to rules set by the MPCC, which Astana Pro Team joined in 2013, and has therefore decided to withdraw from the final World Tour event, the Tour of Beijing.”
Last Wednesday the UCI updated its list of provisional suspensions, with that revealing that former Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Strade Bianche winner Iglinskiy has become the second Astana rider in less than a month to have a positive A-sample test for EPO.
The 33 year old Kazakhstani rider joins his brother Valentin on the sidelines, with the latter previously failing a test for the same substance.
Because it is a member of the MPCC anti-doping movement, the team has committed to suspending itself in the event of two positive tests. According to the MPCC rules, teams must auto-suspend themselves for eight days, with that period starting on the day of the next World Tour event.
The next event was Sunday’s Il Lombardia, with the Tour of Beijing starting five days after that. Had the rider and team followed the same course of action as when Valentin Iglinskiy was deemed positive, declining the B sample, the team would have missed both of those races and also the Tour of Almaty in Kazakhstan, a major objective.
However, while general manager Alexandre Vinkourov was critical of Maxim Iglinskiy last week, Astana said that he would indeed have the B sample tested.
As a result the team was freed up to compete in both Il Lombardia and the Tour of Almaty.
With delays expected in the results date for a B sample analysis, it looked possible the team would ride the Tour of Beijing but be forced to miss the Santos Tour Down Under next year.
This led to predictions that the rider would either waive his right to the B sample analysis or admit his guilt prior to the Tour of Beijing. While it would then have to miss the Chinese race, it would instead be able to ride the season-opening Australian event, a more important race in terms of building up for subsequent contests.
Those predictions proved to be true on Monday, with the team starting its self-suspension now and being able to race without issue next season.
While some see the sequence of events as being an exploitation of the MPCC rules, that organisation didn’t comment on the fortuitous timing of events for the team.
“As their rider Maxim Iglinskiy has not applied against the second opinion following his positive test for EPO, the Astana team suspend themselves from any competition from October 10 to 17, according to MPCC regulation, the most stringent than the one of international bodies.
“On Monday October 6, Astana team have communicated the decision of their rider Maxim Iglinskiy ‘not to stand against the second opinion following his positive test on August 1 2014.’ This is the confirmation of the second positive control suffered by the Astana team in less than twelve months after the one of Valentin Iglinskiy.
“The MPCC has established, on the basis of commitment and volunteerism, a more stringent settlement than international bodies. In this context, Astana team, which have adhered to MPCC since 2013, apply the regulation, which provides self-suspension from the team for a period of eight days, from the first day of the next World Tour race.”
It said that the self-suspension would run from the starting day of the Tour of Beijing on October 10 until October 17. The team will also miss the Tour of Emilia and GP Bruno Beghelli.
Being able to ride the Santos Tour Down Under is, however, a bigger deal.