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by Shane Stokes
September 4, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
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Having defied the MPCC’s regulations in allowing Lars Boom to start the Tour de France, the Astana team has been ejected from the anti-doping organisation.
The MPCC, which was set up in 2007 to try to restore credibility to the sport through the voluntary acceptance of tougher anti-doping regulations, has acted in relation to the controversial squad, which has been in the headlines numerous times in the past twelve months.
Two riders from the WorldTour team tested positive last year as well as three from the Continental squad. Boom was requested by the MPCC not to start the Tour due to abnormal cortisol levels and, more recently, Vincenzo Nibali was ejected from the Vuelta a España after holding onto a team car in returning after a crash.
It is in relation to Boom’s cortisol levels that Astana has been removed definitively from the organisation.
“After hearing Team Astana representative Dmitriy Fofonov’s arguments, the Board of directors of MPCC has decided to exclude Team Astana for non-compliance with the ninth article of the intern regulation,” the MPCC stated Friday morning.
“The team let one of its riders take the start of the Tour de France with a cortisol level under the MPCC voluntary norm.
“Although cortisol hormones are an allowed medicine when prescribed by a physician, the use of that medicine has frequently been abused in the history of sports (including in cycling) for the purpose of increasing the performance. Besides, a low level of cortisol can potentially endanger the health of athletes in certain circumstances when he/she is in competition while the athletes perform under high intensity or under stress.
“For both reasons and with the objective to contribute to restoring the credibility of cycling, MPCC and its member teams have introduced that voluntary norm below which its riders will temporarily withdraw from competition.”
The body produces cortisol as part of its usual endocrine system. While there can be more than one cause of low levels, they can be indicative of the use of external corticoids.
After news emerged of Boom’s low levels, the team said that the cortisol reading was as a result of “a long-standing and well-known application of anti-asthma therapy by the athlete.”
It had tried to substitute him with another rider after the issue arose but the UCI said it was too late for changes to the roster.
Astana was temporary sidelined from the MPCC after pressing ahead with his inclusion, and now has been given the boot.
The MPCC also commented on the Nibali situation, saying that it fully supported the UCI’s decision in the matter. “It is important that the jury has all the necessary information in the event of a comeback into the peloton after a crash or a flat tyre,” it said. “To his end continuous-time video arbitration is seen by the movement as a necessity.”
As regards the Androni Giocattoli’s three positive cases in the past 16 months, namely Patrick Facchini’s adverse analytical finding for Tuaminoheptane in June 2015, Fabio Taborre’s positive test for FG-4592 last June and Davide Appollonio’s positive for EPO in the same month, the MPCC said that it had heard manager Gianni Savio’s arguments on the matter.
It considered that the squad had acted appropriately after the recent cases emerged.
“The team abided to the 10th article of the intern regulation and self-suspended for a month with knowledge of the third case. MPCC notes Androni Giocattoli’s compliance with the voluntary rules governing the movement and supports the team members’ choice to sue those riders.”