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The president of the Italian Olympic committee CONI Giovanni Malagò has made a public declaration of trust in Vincenzo Nibali, saying that he considers the rider to be above suspicion.
“Someone like him is subjected almost daily to doping control and there was never a jump in his values,” he told Sky Sports Italia. “Those who understand the subject knows that Vincenzo Nibali has proven to be a serious person and above all healthy.”
Malagò’s comments come after Nibali’s team Astana was investigated by the UCI Licence Commission after a two of its riders, Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy, tested positive for EPO in recent months. A further three riders from the related Continental team, namely Kazakhstan’s national champion Ilya Davidenok, Artur Fedosseyev and Victor Okishev, returned positive A samples for anabolic androgenic steroids.
Davidenok had become a stagiaire with the WorldTour team in August.
The spate of positives led to concerns about the teams and their ethics, and questions about whether the results could be symptomatic of bigger issues. Maxim Iglinskiy had been part of the lineup which helped Nibali to take the 2014 Tour de France.
Nibali claimed that the team is a clean one and that the two brothers had acted independently.
Nevertheless, the cases led to the UCI to instruct its Licence Commission to review the situation and to weigh up whether or not the team should be given a WorldTour licence for 2015.
It ultimately gave a green light, but laid out strict criteria the team must follow, and warned that the licence would be re-examined if there were any further doping cases.
This could also happen if the Padova anti-doping investigation substantiates Italian media claims that the team had links to the banned doping doctor Michele Ferrari.
Malagò’s public vote of confidence in Nibali will be interpreted by some as absolving him from suspicion.
Others may question the wisdom of someone in his position to make such a statement prior to the final outcome of the Padova inquiry, although Italian media reports have suggested the rider is not named in it.