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by Matt de Neef
December 11, 2014
Following the announcement by the Astana Pro Team that it had been awarded a WorldTour license in 2015, the UCI has revealed further information about the decision, including that Astana’s license is subject to several conditions.
The first of those conditions is that Astana Pro Team will be independently audited by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL) to determine “to what extent the team and or/its management is responsible of the recent events.”
The audit will also seek to “assess the team’s internal structures, culture and management systems to understand whether these are adequate to ensure that the highest ethical standards are upheld.”
The audit will be paid for by the team and a report will be released in early February next year.
The second condition imposed on Astana’s provisional WorldTour license is that, from 2015, the team must adhere to “the internal operational requirements which will be compulsory for all UCI World Teams from 2017 as part of the reform of men’s professional road cycling”.
These requirements comprise 10, as-yet-unclear rules which relate to the organisation of the team and their riders’ workload “in order to ensure that all riders are properly supported and supervised”. According to the UCI, eight teams have voluntarily signed up to these measures in 2015, ahead of their compulsory adoption in 2017.
According to the License Commission and the UCI, Astana’s 2015 WorldTour license will be under threat should the ISSUL audit “reveal deficiencies” or “faulty implementation of the internal operational requirements”. In that case “the UCI would refer the matter to the Licence Commission for a determination on an eventual withdrawal of the licence”. Another doping case within the Astana team in 2015 will have the same effect.
Today’s announcement comes nearly two months after the UCI requested that the License Commission investigate the management and anti-doping policies at Astana following three positive tests within the team (those of Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy, and stagiaire Ilya Davidenok).
As part of that process, team management met with the License Commission in Geneva on November 6. Among the License Commission’s findings from that meeting were that Astana “has initiated a reorganisation of all the support personnel of its riders in order to strengthen its fight against doping within the team to ensure greater prevention and repression”.
But, in light of the three positive tests to Astana riders (plus two more to riders with the Astana Continental Team), the License Commission said “it is therefore essential to monitor the implementation of such measures on the ground”.
Today’s announcement from the UCI confirms that the decision to award Astana a probationary WorldTour license was made without seeing the Padova report, which details allegations against disgraced doctor Michele Ferrari, including claims that he worked with the Astana team.
“For the time being, the elements of this procedure are unknown to the UCI and the Licence Commission and no consequence can be drawn in this case at hand”, the License Commission said via the UCI press release. “The UCI would call upon the Commission if evidence against the Team is established.”
In the same press release UCI President Brian Cookson praised the License Commission for its work and outlined the precarious position Astana finds itself in.
“We shall be following the situation very closely and are awaiting to review the results of the audit”, Cookson said. “Meanwhile, the team will have to comply with the two requirements imposed by the Licence Commission.”
“The combined effect of this is that the Astana Pro Team can be considered very much to be on probation.”