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Why did Astana’s Assan Bazayev not start the Tour de Suisse?

Team Astana has suspended Kazakh rider Assan Bazayev for 15 days for not providing sufficient whereabouts information required as part of the UCI’s biological passport program. The 28-year-old Bazayev was supposed to start the nine-day Tour de Suisse on Saturday, but Astana officials slapped him with an internal, 15-day racing ban Friday because he wasn’t being vigilant enough about informing anti-doping controllers on where he was.

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By Andrew Hood

Team Astana has suspended Kazakh rider Assan Bazayev for 15 days for not providing sufficient whereabouts information required as part of the UCI’s biological passport program.

The 28-year-old Bazayev was supposed to start the nine-day Tour de Suisse on Saturday, but Astana officials slapped him with an internal, 15-day racing ban Friday because he wasn’t being vigilant enough about informing anti-doping controllers on where he was.

“We suspended him for two weeks because he was too negligent in filling out his whereabouts,” Astana team spokesman Philippe Maertens told VeloNews. “For example, on Friday he said he was at his home in Monaco, yet he was already in Switzerland for the race. It was not the first time with him, so that’s why we decided to suspend him.”

Since its introduction in the fall of 2007, a basic tenet of the biological passport requires racers to inform the UCI about where they are as well as provide a guaranteed window of time each day when they will be available for surprise controls.

Riders can log online or send an SMS message into a central databank called the ADAMS program (Anti-Doping Administration and Management System).

Under UCI rules, riders are allowed to miss two out-of-competition tests before a third missed test triggers an equivalent to giving a positive result in a doping control.

Maertens said the ban was an internal team decision, not one prompted by UCI rules.

In short, Maertens said Bazayev’s laziness in updating his location was putting the entire team at risk.

“It was more a signal to him and the rest of the team,” Maertens said. “We cannot afford to have a kind of Rasmussen case on the team.”

Maertens was referring to Danish rider Michael Rasmussen, who was kicked out of the 2007 Tour de France while leading with just four days to go to Paris because of questions about where he was in the weeks and months leading up to that year’s Tour.