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It's been a rocky road for Astana this season....

Astana to keep its WorldTour license

Astana will keep its WorldTour license, but under close observation

Embattled pro team Astana, home of reigning Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, will keep its WorldTour license, but will continue to be closely monitored by the Institut des Sciences du Sport de l’Université de Lausanne (ISSUL).

UCI President Brian Cookson had pushed for the team to have its WorldTour license revoked, but the final decision lay in the hands of the UCI’s License Commission, and was largely dependent on the outcome of the ISSUL audit.

“The registration for the 2015 season remains in force. However, the Team’s licence is subject to strict monitoring of the conditions laid down. This monitoring will be carried out on the basis of reports transmitted by ISSUL to the Licence Commission,” a UCI statement reads.

ISSUL made a number of demands of Astana a requirement for the continuation of the team’s WorldTour license. The team committed to meeting those demands.

The UCI release, issued on Thursday, states: “On the initiative of the License Commission, ISSUL were asked to propose special measures which the Team will be obliged to put in place at specific times over the rest of this season. The team committed to respecting all the measures recommended by ISSUL. At the end of the hearing, the Licence Commission announced the suspension of the proceedings.

The UCI did not release a list of the demands placed upon the Astana team, noting only that a “full reasoned decision will be released in due course.”

The License Commmission retains the right to re-open proceedings if “Astana Pro Team fails to respect one or several of the conditions imposed, or if new elements arise,” according to the statement.

The ISSUL audit did not focus on specific anti-doping offenses, but rather on ethical and organizational standards within the Astana team. Astana will continue to race within the WorldTour, but will be under close observation of ISSUL using the methods developed by the body during its original audit of the team.

The UCI has been tight-lipped regarding the specific methods used by ISSUL, but an in-depth investigation by Italian cycling magazine CyclingPro showed that the body took the view that doping is a bi-product of a socio-economic condition, and centered its investigation around this understanding.

The UCI has previously stated that the audit “revealed a big difference between the policies and structures that the team presented to the Licence Commission in December and the reality on the ground.”

This story is developing. Check back for more.