UCI requests review of Astana’s WorldTour licence as third rider linked to team tests positive

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The UCI has revealed that a third rider linked to the Astana cycling team has tested positive and has formally requested that its Licence Commission undertakes a full review of the management and anti-doping policies of the Astana Pro Team.

Today’s announcement appears to raise the possibility that the Kazakhstan team could lose its WorldTour licence, with ethical considerations one of the most important factors in assessing if a team deserves a place in the top rank of the sport.

The team’s latest positive relates to the 22 year old Kazakhstan rider llya Davidenok, who was tested at the Tour de l’Avenir on August 27, the day he won stage four. His A sample analysis has revealed the presence of anabolic androgenic steroids.

He has ridden for Astana’s Continental team since January 1 2012, and became a stagiaire with the Astana Pro Team on August 1 of this year. Davidenok won the Kazakhstani national road race championships in June and took the Tour of Qinghai Lake in July. He was eighth in the world under 23 road race championships in September.

The positive test is the third linked to the team. On September 10th the UCI confirmed that Valentin Iglinskiy had undergone a doping test on the opening day of the Eneco Tour on August 11, and that the A sample had revealed traces of EPO. The rider waived the right to have his B sample tested and was fired from the Astana team.

On October 1st the UCI’s list of provisionally suspended riders revealed that his older brother Maxim Iglinskiy had also failed an A sample test for the same substance.

The former Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Strade Bianche winner was part of Vincenzo Nibali’s Tour de France winning team and was tested on August 1st, one day before he finished 26th in the Clasica San Sebastian.

Astana initially said that he would have his B sample tested. This enabled it to sidestep an important rule of the MPCC anti-doping organisation, of which it is a member; under that code of conduct, teams with two doping positives must accept an eight day suspension starting with the next WorldTour race.

That would only kick in if Iglinskiy had the results of his B sample analysis, or waived the right to have that tested. As a result the team was able to ride both the Il Lombardia Classic and the Tour of Almaty in Kazakhstan, one of its most important events; afterwards, the team said that Iglinskiy wouldn’t get his B sample tested after all. As a result it missed the Tour of Beijing.

The UCI said on October 8 that it would scrutinize the team and, after the news of a third positive, things look more serious.

“The Licence Commission is the competent body for issuing, reviewing, withdrawing and attaching conditions to UCI WorldTour licences and ensuring that licence-holders continuously comply with the terms of the licence,” said the UCI in a statement.

“As per the UCI Regulations, it is expected that the team will appear before the Licence Commission within the next month for an assessment of the team’s level of compliance with the ethical criteria so that the appropriate measures can be then taken.

“It will be for the Licence Commission to determine whether and to what extent the team and/or its management is responsible for recent events.”

It added by saying that it would not comment further at this point in time.

The team is managed by Alexandre Vinokourov, who served a lengthy suspension after a positive test for blood doping in the 2007 Tour de France.

Under MPCC rules, a third positive within one calendar year means the team will miss the first four weeks of competition, starting with the next WorldTour event. That is the Tour Down Under in January. However that organisation is yet to clarify if stagiaires count as official riders under its guidelines.

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