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by Shane Stokes
December 18, 2014
One week after the UCI announced that its Licence Commission had decided to give a probational WorldTour licence to the Astana team but that it might yet be stripped away if further evidence emerged against the team, the governing body has said that it is still awaiting what could be crucial information in the matter.
Astana came under scrutiny when five riders across two teams tested positive in recent months. In August the brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy of the WorldTour team were nabbed for EPO, while since then three riders from the Continental team were snared for anabolic androgenic steroids.
They are Kazakhstan’s national champion Ilya Davidenok, Artur Fedosseyev and Victor Okishev. Davidenok had become a stagiaire with the WorldTour team in August.
These positives prompted the UCI to ask its Licence Commission to rule on the matter.
On Wednesday of last week the UCI said that the commission had given a provisional licence based on two conditions.
The first was that Astana would 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.”
It must be paid for by the team and a report is expected in early February 2015.
The second condition 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”.
The UCI also said that any further doping case in 2015 would see the matter referred back to the Licence Commission. In addition to that it said that it was awaiting receipt of the file relating to the Padova doping inquiry carried out by Italian investigators.
This reportedly includes information about the team previously working with Michele Ferrari and also is said to include photographic proof that the banned doctore was present at a team training camp in November 2013.
Speaking to CyclingTips on Thursday, the UCI said that it had been unable to start assessing the Padova allegations due to an ongoing delay in receiving the information.
“We are asking almost on a daily basis for the file but have received nothing yet,” UCI spokesman Sebastien Gillot told CyclingTips. “We understand that CONI have asked for clearance to hand it over from the prosecutor but there is no word yet on that. We have no idea how soon it could come.”
Asked how long it would take to process the information once the file was received, he said that it was difficult to say in advance of getting that documentation.
“We haven’t see it, so it’s hard to know what is inside. If the reports from La Gazzetta are accurate then it would be 500 pages or more, and so it will take a while to go through that.”
Still, Gillot acknowledged the need for a prompt decision. “It is in everybody’s interests for this to be done as soon as possible. As soon as we can get it, we will assess it and see what information is there. We hope we can do that soon.”
He also confirmed that the number of WorldTour teams would stick at 17 for next season. Europcar was turned down for a place in the top league due to a shortfall in budget. Asked about rumours that one of the teams previously aiming for a Pro Continental licence might be given the opportunity to move up a level, he said this was not the case.
“There will only be 17 teams. No other team will move up.”