Astana has announced that it has provisionally suspended Andrey Kashechkin with immediate effect due to “failure to agree to the squad's internal regulations.”
According to a statement from the team published on its website this evening, “the Kazakhstan rider remains on the 2013 team roster, but can not be included in race calendar submissions until his signature is received on Pro Team Astana's internal Code of Conduct.”
It did not explain exactly why Kashechkin has not so far signed the document, however both Kashechkin and Olympic road champion Alexandre Vinokourov were named as paying customers of the banned doctor Michele Ferrari in the United States Anti-Dopinhg Agency's Reasoned Decision in the Lance Armstrong case.
The 32-year-old Kashechkin, who turned pro with Domo-Farm Frites in 2000, served a two-year suspension after testing positive for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France, as did team leader Vinokourov.
Both had previously ridden for Liberty Seguros-Würth, the Spanish team that was at the centre of the Operacion Puerto scandal in 2006. Astana took over sponsorship of that team midway through the season, with Vinokourov going on to win the Vuelta that year.
Meanwhile, Kashechkin was enjoying the best form of his career during 2006, winning stages in Paris-Nice and the Vuelta and also becoming Kazakh national road champion.
In 2007, he went to the Tour de France having finished third overall in both the Tour de Romandie and the Dauphiné Libéré, but then came that positive test and two-year ban.
Vinokourov would return to Astana – albeit now under entirely different management – in time for the 2009 Vuelta.
Kashechkin, however, would not find a new team until midway through the following season, when he joined Lampre-ISD. The Italian outfit released him from his contract during the 2011 season, and he rejoined Astana.
He had been due to race in the Tour Down Under which starts three weeks tomorrow, as well as helping Vincenzo Nibali in May’s Giro d’Italia.
Yesterday, Astana announced that it had formally applied for membership of Le Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Credible (MPCC), whose current members include five UCI WorldTour teams including Garmin-Sharp and Lotto-Belisol, as well as several UCI Professional Continental teams, with a number of other outfits either provisional members or having submitted an application to join.
In its statement, Astana said:
As stakeholders in professional cycling and in full recognition of the importance in demonstrating publicly our determination to prevent doping, Pro Team Astana formally requests to join the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Credible.
Damaging practices in the past have created problems for professional cycling's future, placing the reputation, image and viability of the sport at serious risk. Neither the doping practices nor the environment that served to enable them can ever be allowed to happen again.
On the basis of trust and transparency, Pro Team Astana finds the MPCC Code of Conduct to be a credible, voluntary step towards protecting and reestablishing the positive, clean image of professional cycling.
We share the MPCC's belief that riders, managers and sponsors in professional cycling have the obligation and capacity to say no to doping, and call on the UCI to recognize the MPCC as a viable intermediary among teams, organizers and Cycling Federations.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.