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UCI denies report that decision to withdraw Astana licence already made

Article in Dutch newspaper "misleading" says governing body; Licence Commission hearing takes place on Thursday...

The UCI has denied that its Licence Commission, which is due to hold a hearing on the Astana case on Thursday, has already decided to withdraw the Kazakh team’s WorldTour licence, describing an article published in a Dutch newspaper this morning as “misleading.”

De Telegraaf claimed that the team, home to Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, would lose its licence and be forced to drop two tiers to Continental level, meaning it would not benefit from wild card entries to WorldTour races, which are only available to Professional Continental teams.

But in a statement the UCI said: “Following a misleading article published today in Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) would like to clarify that no hearing has yet taken place in the Astana case and therefore no decision has been made.

“The UCI won’t make any further comment until the Licence Commission has rendered its decision,” it added.

That decision is expected to be announced around a week after Thursday’s hearing, in the days ahead of Paris-Roubaix.

The UCI asked the Licence Commission, which is independent of the governing body and has five members, to review Astana’s licence in February.

The referral followed an audit into Astana’s management and anti-doping procedures by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL), conducted as one of the conditions of it being awarded a WorldTour licence for the current season.

In December, UCI president Brian Cookson had warned Astana it was “on probation” after two riders – the brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy – tested positive for EPO, and three members of its UCI Continental development team also failed anti-doping controls in 2014.

Should the Licence Commission take Astana’s WorldTour licence, the team can apply for a Professional Continental one but will still need to satisfy licensing requirements.

It is also likely that if the decision goes against Astana, Alexander Vinokourov’s team will seek to appeal it to the Court of Arbitration for Sport – as Russian team Katusha successfully did when it was denied a licence for 2013.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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