The Ukranian Cycling Federation hit back at Astana-Acca Due O just a day after one of its riders, Hanna Solovey, was unceremoniously fired for “unprofessionalism.” The real cause of her firing, the Ukranians contend, was retribution over a failed attempt to make Solovey a Kazakhstan citizen in time for the Rio Olympics next summer.
“The Cycling Federation of Kazakhstan and Alexander Vinokourov personally have more than once asked me to let Hanna [Solovey] perform for their country,” said Oleksandr Bashenko, president of the Ukranian Cycling Federation.
According to Bashenko, Vinokourov, general manager of Astana, and Bashenko met repeatedly to discuss the proposal, but the Kazakhstani was rebuffed.
“This was not a kind of proposal that we would accept. Hanna Solovey is a real face of Ukrainian cycling; she is a great talent and a real medal candidate for the next Olympic Games. Ukraine has no interest on losing such a great athlete,” Bashenko said.
Solovey’s firing was a direct result of her Ukranian citizenship, the Ukranian Federation contends.
“The Cycling Federation of Ukraine would like to pay attention at the clear connection between the termination of Hanna Solovey’s contract and her refusal to perform for Kazakhstan,” its statement reads.
“We are very outraged because of Astana-Acca Due O’s behavior,” Bashenko said. “They have not just terminated Hanna Solovey’s contract, but have also accused our best cyclist on unprofessionalism.
“I am very disappointed because of the decision of the Kazakh side. They have just seen that the cooperation with Hanna Solovey, who is known as the best rider of Astana-Acca Due O team, would bring nothing to Kazakhstan as a state. That is why they have decided to shut a door with a bang.”