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The MPCC anti-doping movement has said that it won’t immediately require the Astana team to suspend itself, as per MPCC rules, over Tuesday’s news of Maxim Iglinskiy’s A sample for EPO.
While the movement’s regulations call on teams to sideline themselves from competition after positive tests, the MPCC has issued a clarification of the rules and how they pertain to this situation.
“This is the second alleged doping offense involving riders of the Astana team in less than twelve months, after the one of Valentin Iglinskiy, who tested positive on August 11,” the MPCC wrote in its communication.
“In this case, according to the MPCC regulation, a member team agrees on a voluntary basis to temporarily suspend operations for eight days from the next World Tour race.”
The next WorldTour race is Sunday’s Il Lombardia. It will be followed by the Tour of Beijing and also the 2.HC Tour of Almaty, the biggest pro race in Kazakhstan.
All three races are targets for the team, but the tight timeframe between them mean that the latter two would fall within the eight day suspension period.
The MPCC said that the rider and the team needed to clarify the situation as soon as possible; until then, it is too early to say if Astana will be blocked from Il Lombardia.
“This approach does, however, apply only after the result of the counter-analysis, if the rider requests it,” it continued, explaining the rule concerned. “The MPCC has specifically asked the Astana team to hear its rider Maxim Iglinskiy, in order to know if he makes a confession or requests counter-analysis.”
It added that Astana team manager Alexandre Vinokourov contacted MPCC president Roger Legeay on Tuesday evening, providing an explanation of the situation.
“If this counter-analysis is claimed, MPCC wishes that the result will be quickly released, as it was already the case in similar circumstances last year,” it stated.
Iglinskiy’s younger brother Valentin tested positive for EPO on the opening day of the Eneco Tour on August 11th. The result became known on September 10th. He too could have had his B sample tested, but the team said that he had decided not to do so.
“Valentin has admitted to using prohibited substances on his own initiative and independently, without any consultation from the Astana Pro Team staff,” it said then.
“In its wish for full transparency, Astana Pro Team has refused to defend a rider who failed to respect the rules and ethics as stipulated in his contract and who has failed to behave in a manner consistent with other riders in his team and within professional cycling.”
The team added that it was confirming “our commitment to clean cycling without doping.”
Tuesday’s news that his older brother had also been snagged for the same substance led to a response that was similar in some ways.
While it stated by saying that he would remain out of competition until the result of the B analysis, it appeared to be critical of him prior to that verification being done.
“All Astana Pro Team riders are contractually obliged to respect strict ethical rules and regulations,” said Vinokourov.
“We will not tolerate any indulgences by any one entity, person or structure that violates these rules – I am very disappointed and angered that this rider could not have understood the basis of our rules and the importance of our ethics.
“It is especially unacceptable on the part of a Kazakh rider who stands for the image of our team and the image of our country.”
The statement is unusual; on one hand, the team states that it will await the result of the B analysis and won’t undergo a self-suspension in the meantime. On the other, Vinokourov already appears to accept the A sample result at face value, and lambastes Iglinskiy.
There’s a contradiction between the two stances, but its one which could enable Astana to sidestep an auto-suspension which would force it to miss three major races.