Astana rider Maxim Iglinskiy, revealed this week as having positive for EPO on 1 August, will confess early next week to having used the drug without his team’s knowledge, says Italian sports daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport. The team is expected to withdraw from the season’s final WorldTour race, the Tour of Beijing – but will ride Il Lombardia tomorrow, as well as the Tour of Almaty in its home country, Kazakhstan.
As a member of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) in common with ten other top-tier teams, Astana is obliged to voluntarily suspend itself from racing if, in the space of 12 months, two riders test positive for a banned substance.
The suspension, which lasts eight days, is required to take effect from the next WorldTour race following the date the team became aware of the positive test; for the purposes of the MPCC’s rules, the result must be confirmed by the analysis of the B sample or a confession from the rider.
News that Iginskiy had tested positive broke on Wednesday, just three weeks after his team mate and brother, Valentin, had admitted using EPO in a test taken at the Eneco Tour in August. He was sacked by the team.
As we reported on Thursday, discussions were taking place behind the scenes regarding Astana’s participation in tomorrow’s Il Lombardia, the final Monument of the season. It now looks as though the Kazakh outfit will participate, with its hopes resting on Fabio Aru.
Clearly were Iglinskiy, winner of Liege-Bastogne-Liege, to have confessed to doping prior to Il Lombardia, the team, whose general manager is Alexandre Vinokourov, would have had to voluntarily pull out of that race.
More embarrassingly, it would also have had to withdraw from tomorrow’s Tour of Almaty, the biggest race in its home country, won by Iglinskiy last season and where Vincenzo Nibali, whom he helped win this year’s Tour de France, is to end his season.
Should the Gazzetta dello Sport’s prediction be correct and a confession does come from the rider early next week, the team’s blushes will have been spared in that regard, but it would be open to accusations of having ignored the spirit of the MPCC’s rules to suit its own purposes.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.