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UDPATE: UCI warns Astana, announces 2015 WorldTour teams

UCI says the Kazakhstan-based squad will receive additional scrutiny due to two recent EPO positives

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Days after UCI president Brian Cookson said Astana’s 2015 racing license may receive extra scrutiny, the UCI announced Wednesday the team was one of 10 with a first division license for 2015.

In a press release, cycling’s governing body said the Kazakhstan-based squad already has a license to race at the top level next season. Nine other teams — Ag2r-La Mondiale, Lampre-Merida, Lotto Soudal, Movistar, Orica-GreenEdge, Europcar, Giant-Alpecin, Katusha, and Sky — are also licensed to race.

However, the UCI followed up the release with this statement:

“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) views the positive tests for EPO by two riders of the same team — Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy — as an extremely serious situation and one which raises questions about the management of the team and the ethics which are upheld within it. We will be discussing this with the team to see whether we are satisfied that they are doing all they can to ensure their riders do not use performance enhancing drugs. Once we have reviewed the situation, we will see if there are changes we believe need to be made internally at the team or indeed whether we should attach conditions to their license going forward which are consistent with the WADA Code.

“Questions have been raised as to whether the UCI will apply its rules regarding fines for UCI WorldTour teams if Astana Pro Team does not race at the Tour of Beijing as a result of the team suspending itself. We confirm that the financial penalties contained in the UCI rules under such circumstances will indeed be applicable. The final decision regarding the fine will be made by the UCI Disciplinary Commission. Until a decision has been reached, the UCI will not comment any further on this issue.”

Seven teams — BMC Racing, Cannondale, Etixx-Quick Step, FDJ, Lotto NL, Tinkoff-Saxo, and Trek Factory Racing — have either requested a renewal or a new license altogether.

Astana riders Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy recently failed tests for EPO. The former was fired by Astana, while Maxim has been provisionally suspended.

The doping positives forced Astana to withdraw from the season-ending Tour of Beijing because of the MPCC code, which it follows.

“I’m sure this is something the license commission will be considering when they appraise their licenses for 2015,” Cookson said on Monday. “I’m hopeful that these are two cases, which is two cases too many, but I’m hoping that they are isolated incidents and not symptomatic of a greater problem in the team. I hope so.

“We’ll wait and see on that one. The decision hasn’t finished yet, and I don’t want to comment further. The second of the two cases is still an ongoing case so it’s not fair for me to comment until that’s completed.”

Teams must still meet financial, ethical, and administrative criteria in order to earn and maintain a WorldTour license, so the Astana case may not be over. A maximum of 18 teams will be given a 2015 WorldTour license as of November 3.

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