The UCI says that it has asked its Licence Commission to carry out "a full review of the management and anti-doping policies of the Astana Pro Team" after two riders, the brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy, tested positive for EPO in August and a third rider linked to the team, stagiaire IIya Davidenok, tested positive for anabolic steroids.
The Kazakh team, whose star rider is Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali and is managed by Olympic road champion Alexandre Vinokourov, banned after testing positive for an illegal blood transfusion in 2007, last week withdrew from the final UCI WorldTour race of the season, the Tour of Beijing.
The voluntary suspension from racing was in compliance with the rules of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), of which it is a member.
After Maxim Iglinskiy chose not to request examination of his B sample last week, UCI president Brian Cookson said Astana was likely to be referred to the Licence Commission, which evaluates teams on sporting, administrative, financial and - pertinent to this case - ethical criteria before granting or renewing a licence.
He said: "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."
Cookson's hopes have been dashed, however, with confirmation from the UCI today of Davidenok's positive test for anabolic steroids at August's Tour de l'Avenir, which he rode with Astana's development team, which races at UCI Continental level. He won Stage 4 of the race at the Plateau de Solaison.
Since 1 August, the 22-year-old has also been a stagiaire with Astana's ProTeam, and earlier this month rode in the Tour of Almaty. At the world championships at Ponferrada, Spain last month, the Kazakh finished eighth in the under-23 road race.
In a press release issued this afternoon, the governing body said:
The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) will ask the Licence Commission to undertake a full review of the management and anti-doping policies of the Astana Pro Team.
This follows the serious concerns raised by the fact that two Astana riders Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy recently tested positive for EPO and the notification this week that llya Davidenok has returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for anabolic androgenic steroids in a sample collected at the Tour de l’Avenir on 28th August 2014. IIya Davidenok has ridden from 1st January 2012 to date for Continental Team Astana and since 1st August 2014 has also been a stagiaire with Astana Pro Team. The rider has the right to request analysis of the B sample and in accordance with UCI Anti-doping Rules has been provisionally suspended until the adjudication of the matter. At this stage of the procedure, the UCI will not comment any further on this individual case.
The Licence Commission is the competent body for issuing, reviewing, withdrawing and attaching conditions to UCI WorldTour licences and ensuring that licence-holders continuously comply with the terms of the licence. As per the UCI Regulations, it is expected that the team will appear before the Licence Commission within the next month for an assessment of the team’s level of compliance with the ethical criteria so that the appropriate measures can be then taken. It will be for the Licence Commission to determine whether and to what extent the team and/or its management is responsible for recent events. The UCI will not comment further at this stage.
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.