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Responding to claims made earlier on Monday by De Telegraaf, the UCI has denied suggestions that an outcome has already been reached in relation to the Astana team’s WorldTour licence.
The Dutch newspaper reported that the UCI’s Licence Commission decided on March 20 that the team would be denied a WorldTour licence and also the possibility of racing as a Pro Continental team.
Not so, states the UCI.
“Following a misleading article published today in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) would like to clarify that no hearing has yet taken place in the Astana case and therefore no decision has been made,” it said in a statement sent to CyclingTips.
“The UCI won’t make any further comment until the Licence Commission has rendered its decision.”
A hearing had previously been scheduled to due to take place this Thursday, April 2. It is understood that various representatives including team managers, doctors and riders will likely answer questions before a panel on that date
The team won the Tour de France last July with Vincenzo Nibali. That zenith didn’t last long, with news coming last autumn that the brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy had both tested positive for EPO in August.
The situation worsened for the team when it emerged that one if its stagiaries, Kazakhstan’s national champion Ilya Davidenok, was found to have traces of anabolic androgenic steroids in his system.
He had started the year as a member of the Astana Continental team. Those cases led the UCI to ask its Licence Commission to undertake a review of the WorldTour team’s licence.
Two more riders from the Continental squad, Artur Fedosseyev and Victor Okishev, subsequently also tested positive for anabolic androgenic steroids.
The five riders all waived the right to a B sample analysis, thus effectively accepting the accuracy of the A sample result.
Initially the team was given a green light to continue in the WorldTour, although when the UCI’s Licence Commission stated in December that it could remain at that level, it did so subject to a number of conditions.
Once of those was that the team would be independently audited by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL). If the results of that study went against the team, the Licence Commission said its initial decision could be changed.
That scenario ultimately happened, with the UCI stating on February 26 that it had decided to ask its Licence Commission to strip the team of its WorldTour licence.
It said that the team had misrepresented its policies and structures, essentially misleading the Licence Commission. It also said that details of the Padova anti-doping investigation communicated by Italian authorities had contained evidence against some Astana team members.
It later emerged that the Licence Commission would meet April 2 over the matter. Despite De Telegraaf’s report that a decision has already been reached, the UCI makes clear that this is not the case.