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MILAN (VN) — Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali attacked after the announcement Wednesday that a fourth Astana teammate this season has failed a doping test, the fourth such announcement in less than three months.
“If people want to associate me with these cases, they don’t understand anything,” the Sicilian and 2014 Tour de France winner told Italy’s sports daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“They are four idiots that have nothing to do with me.”
The four are brothers Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy, Ilya Davidenok, and Victor Okishev — the latter two race for Astana’s third-division feeder team. Maxim Iglinskiy helped Nibali win the Tour in July.
Valentin Iglinskiy tested positive for EPO on August 11, with the announcement coming September 10; Maxim Iglinskiy turned in an EPO positive on August 1, which was announced October 1; Davidenok had a positive test for steroids on August 27, announced October 16; and Okishev tested positive for steroids on May 29, which was announced November 19.
The four cases have created a black stain on the team in blue.
“The problem is certainly not mine. I think about myself and I have a clear conscience. I certainly can’t give answers for their problems,” Nibali said.
“Also, the two riders race for the continental team and I don’t even know who they are.
“Maxim Iglinskiy? In a team there are those you have to live with regardless. He was not part of my group and between us, there’s no link.”
Before the Tour de France, Maxim Iglinskiy rode with Nibali in the Tour of Oman, Milano-Sanremo, Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and the Tour de Romandie.
Because of its second doping case and its membership in the MPCC anti-doping movement, the team had to sit out eight days of racing in October and missed the Tour of Beijing.
The four cases, along with Roman Kreuziger’s biological passport problem stemming from his years with Astana, could shine a bad light on the team and its racing license. The UCI announced in October the 10 teams with a WorldTour racing license for 2015, and Astana was among them. Seven other teams had either applied or were requesting a renewal. In the wake of Astana’s doping cases, UCI President Brian Cookson said the licensing commission could decide to revoke or attach restrictions to its 2015 license.
“It’s safe to say that everyone was very disappointed by this turn of events,” Cookson told VeloNews last month. “But if we assume that there have been three cases, that’s something that’s obviously very, very serious and that’s why we’ve referred it to the licensing commission, asking them to look into all the issues around that and make recommendations as to what impact these issues should have on the license of Astana. That’s the right and proper process. That’s what the license commission was established to do, and we’re going to let them get on with their job now.”
The license commission heard from Astana general manager Alexander Vinokourov earlier this month as part of its review. The UCI will hear from the commission before it announces its WorldTour license renewals in the next week or the first week of December.
“It seems absurd that the blame falls on the team,” Nibali continued.
“I can guarantee that the sponsors are very upset. You can’t place the blame on the team for what has happened, however. The idea that it’s a team doping system is wrong. To take away our license would be a mistake.”
Nibali, though being upset with the situation in his team, wants the UCI and anti-doping testers to continue their work.
“I hope that they catch all the dopers,” Nibali added. “If they catch another 10, I’d be pleased. It means the controls are in place and they are working.”