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Former Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Strade Bianche winner Maxim Iglinskiy has become the second Astana rider in less than a month to be handed a provisional suspension after a positive A-sample test for EPO.
The 33 year old Kazakhstani rider joins his brother Valentin on the sidelines, with the latter also failing a test for the same substance.
The news was made public by the UCI via a recently-updated list of suspended riders. At the time of writing it has not issued an official statement, but the document shows that the sample concerned was collected from the older Iglinskiy brother on August 1st, one day before he finished 26th in the Clasica San Sebastian.
His younger brother’s positive test was taken on the opening day of the Eneco Tour on August 11th, but the result became known sooner.
Astana offered a statement via press release late on Wednesday night.
“In accordance with regulations of the MPCC (Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible) to which the Astana team first adhered in 2013, the rider is suspended provisionally and shall remain out of competition in anticipation of the results from the B analysis”, Astana Pro Team General Manager Alexandr Vinokurov said.
“We will not tolerate any indulgences by any one entity, person or structure that violates these rules”, Vinokourov continued. “I am very disappointed and angered that this rider could not have understood the basis of our rules and the importance of our ethics.”
As a member of the MPCC anti-doping movement, the Astana team could potentially miss Il Lombardia and the Tour of Beijing, the next WorldTour events. 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.
Il Lombardia will be held on October 5th while the Tour of Beijing begins five days after that.
Equally embarrassing is the fact that the team would also stand to miss out on the Tour of Almaty in Kazakhstan, where Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali was due to compete. It is a major target for the team due to its location.
CyclingTips contacted Astana to confirm whether the team would self-suspend as per MPCC rules, thereby missing Il Lombardia, Tour of Beijing and Tour of Almaty. Team spokesperson Chris Baldwin told CyclingTips that no further statement would be forthcoming until Thursday morning (European time).
As @Inrng notes, Maxim Iglinskiy and the team could try to play for time by requesting a B sample analysis.
When the news became public that his younger brother had tested positive, Astana quickly stated that he would not dispute the findings.
“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, firing him immediately.
“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.”
It remains to be seen if the team will take the same line with his brother, not least because the stakes are considerably higher due to the MPCC’s rules.