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Brian Cookson: Astana decision due today or tomorrow

UCI chief tells Gazzetta dello Sport that report on Kazakh team will take account of alleged Michele Ferrari links

UCI president Brian Cookson says that a decision on Astana’s WorldTour licence will be made “today or tomorrow.” He also confirmed that the Licence Commission compiling a report on the Kazakh team would take into account allegations that banned doctor Michele Ferrari was present at an Astana training camp last year.

Speaking to Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, Cookson said: “The decision on Astana will arrive today or tomorrow. Our commission tasked with the report has gathered all the evidence.” He confirmed that would include information gathered in Italy.

Yesterday, the Italian sports daily reported that a file compiled by public prosecutors in Padua and passed to the Italian Olympic Committee, CONI, included photographs alleged to be of Ferrari speaking with Astana riders at a training camp in Tuscany in November 2013.

Ferrari, who helped Lance Armstrong cheat his way to seven successive Tour de France victories and is now banned from involvement in sport for life, rejected claims he had attended that training camp at Montecatini Terme as “media bullshit.”

Regarding those allegations, Cookson said: “CONI has sent us some documentation, we have acquired the information that has appeared in recent days in the Italian press, and we have also received assistance from magistrates,” the latter presumably a reference to the Padua investigation.”

Cookson was asked if, in the case Astana were not granted a WorldTour licence for 2015, race organisers could still invite Astana to the Giro d’Italia or Tour de France, the latter won this year by the team’s rider Vincenzo Nibali.

The newspaper reports that he seemed about to give a negative response before reflecting then giving a more considered reply, saying: "I don’t want to talk about it until an official decision has been made.”

Astana’s licence is being reviewed following a succession of doping cases in recent months involving two riders from its WorldTour team, and three from its under-23 development squad, with the Licence Commission investigating its management and anti-doping policies.

Simon has been news editor at 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.

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