Team Katusha has managed to escape a suspension from competition Eduard Vorganov became second rider of the team in 12 months to test positive for a banned performance enhancing drug. The rider was provisionally suspended on Friday after he tested positive for an adverse analytical finding for the anti-ischemic drug Meldonium in an out-of-competition test on January 14, 2016.

On Tuesday, the UCI Disciplinary Commission, an independent branch of the world governing body of cycling, issued its verdict. It ruled that the conditions for the suspension of a team have not been met under Article 7.12.1 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules that suggests a ban of 15-45 days of a team with two positive doping cases in the space of a year. Under UCI Rules, a team suspension is enforceable when the second doping case is notified to the team and athlete. The verdict of the UCI Disciplinary Commission hinged on the first case of Luca Paolini who tested positive for cocaine at Tour de France last year. The commission ruled it was “inappropriate and disproportionate” to impose a team suspension in light of the “recreational” nature of use of cocaine by Paolini. The commission it was unfair to hit Team Katusha with a ban that is intended to punish teams that lack control of doping for sporting purposes by their athletes since Paolini’s positive test was not for performance enhancement.

In a statement from the UCI, the president of the Disciplinary Commission said it has been established with regard to Paolini case that the rider’s intake of cocaine was not related to an intention to influence sporting performance but was rather taken on a “recreational” basis. The Disciplinary Commission President added applying a suspension in this context under article 7.12.1 when one of the two cases of Adverse Analytical Finding relates to [the use of] a social drug cannot be reconciled with the aim of the article and also added even if, strictly speaking, such a case falls within the application of the anti-doping rules for the rider concerned, the imposition of negative consequences for the whole team would be inappropriate and disproportionate. The president of the Disciplinary Commission also said it is understood that the intention of the article is to impose negative consequences on teams that lack control of doping for sporting purposes by their athletes, or if even worse scenarios exist, and/or if teams are not doing enough to fight such doping.

Team Katusha was facing a possible miss of racing that might have included Vuelta a Andalucía, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Vuelta a Andalucía, Omloop Het Nieuwsblad, Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne, Paris-Nice, Tirreno-Adriatico, and other races.

Vitalii Abramov, Katusha team press officer, remarked we of course are very happy with this decision of the UCI Disciplinary Commission. Abramov said it was important moment for our team and now we can continue to race and focus on our goals and to move ahead with our ambitions in this season.

The Russian team, despite escaping a suspension from the UCI, could still face time away from races because it is a member of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC).

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Katusha Escape Team Suspension