The UCI has published details of its independent Licence Commission’s decision, announced last month, not to withdraw Astana’s WorldTour licence. In short, the four member commission was satisfied that the team is on track to overhaul its anti-doping procedures, as well as making progress to satisfy other requirements imposed on it.
Initially, the full decision has only been published in French, but a press release from the governing body this evening provides a free translation in English of key points.
The Kazakh team’s licence, granted in December, was subject to conditions including it undergoing a detailed audit by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne ISSUL) after a string of doping cases in 2014.
In February, after receipt of the ISUUL audit as well as evidence from Italian investigators based in Padua who have been conducting an inquiry into doping within sports including professional cycling, the UCI asked the Licence Commission to revoke the team’s licence.
In its reasoned decision, which the UCI received today, the License Commission said that “the ISSUL report, meticulous and corroborated, highlighted the flaws in this team in 2014,” and that the UCI was justified in asking for its licence to be withdrawn.
The commission noted that “the withdrawal of a licence is the most serious sanction that a UCI WorldTeam can face” and that “such a sanction should only be imposed if other less restrictive sanctions cannot be envisaged.”
It said that since last November, Astana had begun reorganising its internal anti-doping procedures, that the team was committed to adhere to actions required by the ISSUL report, and that most of the flaws highlighted in it could be resolved in the months to come.
As a result, it decided Astana’s commitments “are of a nature that enable it to undergo a fundamental reform in order to prevent the risks of doping.”
The Licence Commission’s conclusion was:
At this stage, in view of the modifications that have already taken place, those that are announced, the commitment to adhere to the conditions laid down by the ISSUL with the approval of and under the supervision of the Commission, and the absence of further incidents since autumn 2014, it is found that the sanction of a withdrawal, motivated mainly by facts of the past, would not, as of today, respect the principle of proportionality.
As a result, it decided:
It is noted that the Team has committed to conform to measures recommended by the ISSUL and that this commitment is formalised in a document signed by the UCI WorldTeam Astana, the ISSUL and the Licence Commission
The respect of this commitment is to be monitored by the ISSUL under the supervision of the Commission
The procedure of the withdrawal of the licence of the UCI WorldTeam Astana is suspended. That means, the registration of the UCI WorldTeam Astana for 2015 is maintained
In the case of non-compliance with the terms of agreement, the ISSUL will notify the Commission, which can at any time reopen the procedure of licence withdrawal
The reopening of the procedure can also occur in the case of new cases of doping or other serious infringements of the rules.
Reacting to the reasoned decision, UCI president Brian Cookson said: “First of all I would like to thank the Licence Commission for its professionalism during this procedure and the way that it has worked in total independence vis-à-vis all the parties concerned.
“The UCI recognises the constructive approach adopted by the Licence Commission. We are pleased to note that Astana Pro Team has committed to a process of in-depth reforms thanks to this procedure initiated before the Licence Commission.
“Taking into account that the team will be under the supervision of the ISSUL and monitored by the Licence Commission for the rest of the 2015 season, we are satisfied by this decision which we believe is proportionate.
“We are confident of the fact that the measures that the team has committed to put in place will help it improve its culture, its structures and its systems for governing anti-doping.”
December’s award of a licence to Alexander Vinokourov’s team was also subject to it adhering to a set of internal operational requirements collectively known as the ‘cahier des charges,’ which the UCI explains in its press release:
... will comprise 10 rules relating to the organisation of the teams, their methods of preparation as well as their riders’ workload in order to ensure that all riders are properly supported and supervised.
After an experimental phase in 2015 and 2016, all professional teams will be obliged to respect the terms of reference from the 2017 season onwards.
An auditing body will ensure the terms of reference are adhered to, and in the experimental phase these controls will be carried out by the ISSUL.
The ISSUL will award a label that will be used by the UCI during the registration of teams in 2017.
Cookson added: “We believe it is our responsibility to accompany each UCI WorldTeam towards increased professionalism and we firmly believe that the application of the ‘cahier des charges’ will contribute towards this.
He also thanked the ISSUL "for its expertise and its collaboration both during this procedure and in the establishment of the ‘cahier des charges’.”
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.