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by Shane Stokes
November 27, 2014
The steady erosion of credibility has continued in relation to the Astana team, with a fifth rider connected to the setup confirmed as returning a positive test.
The UCI’s list of provisional doping suspensions was updated Wednesday with the name of the Kazakhstani rider Artur Fedosseyev, who returned a positive A sample for anabolic androgenic steroids on August 16. The test was conducted on the final day of the Tour de l’Ain in France. He had ridden well in the race, netting sixth, 14th and 14th on stages and finishing 15th overall.
Fedosseyev had earlier that month finished second in the Trofeo Bastianelli, and went on to place a solid 23rd in the 1.1 GP Industria & Commercio di Prato in September.
He is 20 years of age and has been racing with the Astana Continental team, which is the development wing of the similarly-titled WorldTour team.
The run of Astana positives started on September 10 when the UCI confirmed that Valentin Iglinskiy had failed a doping test taken on the opening day of the Eneco Tour on August 11. 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.
He too has decided against getting the B sample tested, although not before the Astana team indicated that he would do so and were able to ride Il Lombardia and the Tour of Almaty as a result.
A member of the MPCC anti-doping organisation, the team would otherwise have had to sit out those races under that body’s rules.
On October 16 the UCI revealed that a third rider, Kazakhstan’s national champion Ilya Davidenok, tested positive on August 27, shortly after winning stage four of the Tour de l’Avenir. His A sample analysis revealed the presence of anabolic androgenic steroids.
The same bracket of substances was involved in the positive test of a fourth Astana-linked rider, Victor Okishev, who was confirmed as having a positive A sample on November 18.
Davidenok, Okishev and Fedosseyev all raced with the Astana Continental team this year. The first of those became a stagiarie with the WorldTour team in August.
In addition to the doping positives, the Astana Continental team was hit by the death of one of its riders in March.
Yerlan Pernebekov was in Ecuador with the squad, taking part in a training camp. He complained of a severe headache and was taken to hospital, but later passed away. It was determined that he had suffered a burst blood vessel, with this leading to a stroke.
CyclingTips is unaware of any indications that the tragedy was connected to doping.
The latest news concerning an Astana-linked team is a further blow to the team’s chances of retaining its WorldTour licence in 2015. After Davidenok was snared the UCI requested that its Licence Commission examine the WorldTour team’s situation and determine if it should be excluded.
That commission heard the team on November 6th, and a final decision is expected in approximately one week.