Astana Cleared to Race

astana_newsAstana have been cleared to race by the UCI despite president Brian Cookson requesting a withdrawal of the team’s WorldTour licence – the independent UCI Licence Commission has decided to allow them to continue racing.


Astana was granted a provisional WordTour licence in December and subjected to an independent audit. The Commission is now said to be satisfied that a ‘reorganisation of all the support personnel of its riders in order to strengthen its fight against doping” meets it’s requirements. The Kazah team will keep its existing registration as long as it complies with “special measures.’


However, the results of the audit, carried out by the Sport Sciences Institute of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL), raised some red flags, including a continued relationship with banned trainer Michele Ferrari.


Cookson’s original position that ‘Teams have to take their responsibilities very, very seriously in terms of how they monitor riders, how they support riders and coach riders’ included a nod to the Ferrari rumours reported by Gazzetta dello Sport, ‘Others who are allegedly floating around on the sidelines, the people who have been banned, there are rumours that they are still acting as intermediaries, it is a warning to them as well.’


The trigger for the original enquiry was a pair of WorldTour team riders testing positive for EPO and several doping cases in its Continental affiliate. Both events raised concerns about the team’s overall structure and ethics.


Cookson said, in conclusion, that the situation was ‘very frustrating, but we had to work with legal tools and I had to accept that.’ The announcement finally clears the way for Vincenzo Nibali to defend his 2014 Tour de France title without fear of exclusion.


Astana Licence Under Threat

astanaAstana, home to Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali, is to have its WorldTour Licence reviewed after a third member of the squad, llya Davidenok, failed a doping test. Davidenok tested positive for anabolic steroids following a test on August 27, whilst brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy both tested positive for EPO (erythropoietin) earlier in August.


The International Cycling Union’s (UCI) licence commission will review Astana’s anti-doping policies and wider management conduct. In a statement the UCI say the decision to review, ‘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… The rider has the right to request the analysis of the B sample and in accordance with UCI Anti-doping Rules has been provisionally suspended until the adjudication of the matter.’


Astana’s Team Manager, Alexander Vinokourov, completed a two-year bad for doping in 2009 before going on to take Gold in the Men’s Road Race at the London 2012 Olympics.


Further information on Astana at


Astana Win Vuelta a Espana Opener

Vuelta a España 2013 Stage 1Astana Pro Team have won the opening stage of the Vuelta a Espana 2013, the 27.4km Team Time Trial from Vilanova de Arousa to Sanxenxo, with Janez Brajkovic crossing the finish line first to take head of GC. RadioShack Leopard took second spot (10 seconds adrift) and Omega Pharma-QuickStep third on +16; Team Sky, led by GB’s Luke Rowe finished fourth 22seconds behind Astana.


The victory demonstrates a change of fortunes for Brajkovic who had to withdraw ahead of the Giro d’Italia with a stomach virus and then completed only six stages of the Tour de France before a crash ended his campaign. Commenting on his victory at the Vuelta a Espana the Slovenian said, ‘This was my lucky day. From the moment I woke up to the moment we crossed the line, everything went right. It’s nice to wear the red jersey after so much bad luck this season, and I am especially proud of how strong the team is. We are here to try and wear this jersey on the final day in Madrid, and today is a good indication of our intent…’


Astana Pro Team Director Sportif Alexandr Shefer added: ‘We have never won a TTT before. Second, third, we always seem to miss that one thing, that one element. Today we did everything right, and we finished with six of nine riders. Everybody worked tremendously hard today to do this time trial right, and to take the leader’s jersey on the first day is a proud achievement for our team.’


For further details on the Vuelta a Espana see the Cyclo feature here.