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Friday 21, Nov 2014

  Astana Hit By Another Doping Scandal

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Astana Hit By Another Doping Scandal

UCI Continental Team Astana Kazakh rider Victor Okishev has tested positive for a banned substance. Okishev, who rides for Astana’s reserve team, failed a test for anabolic steroids during the Asian championships last May. The 20-year-old from Kazakhstan has been provisionally suspended from competition because of the positive test.

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announced Victor Okishev’s sample gave an Adverse Analytical Finding of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids in a sample collected at the Asian Cycling Championships on 29 May 2014. In a statement, the UCI said the rider has the right to request and attend the analysis of the B sample.

Okishev is the second member of the Astana reserve team to be suspended. Last month, Ilya Davidenok was banned for testing positive for steroids during the Tour de l’Avenir in August. In October this year, brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy tested positive for Erythropoietin (EPO), which promotes the count of red blood cells in the body. Valentin failed an anti-doping test on August 11 while Maxim failed the test on August 1. Maxim Iglinskiy was part of the Tour de France line-up of Team Astana that saw the team’s Vincenzo Nibali take the overall victory.

Nibali was furious to learn of the doping positives and recently remarked that Astana suffers due to its past, for things that happened in another era. He remarked Vinokourov wasn’t even the manager when the team signed Jakob Fuglsang, Fabio Aru, and him, precisely with the objective of changing the image of the team and earning some credibility. The three-time grand tour winner added the sponsors in Kazakhstan are very angry with the Iglinskiy brothers, and he strongly believes that our sport is cleaner today compared to other times in cycling.

The Astana team is run by Alexandre Vinokourov, controversial former rider, who was banned for blood doping in 2007-2009. Vinokourov is presently under investigation for alleged race fixing and bribery.

Team Astana is a member of the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Credible (Movement for Credible Cycling or MPCC) that enforces stricter anti-doping rules than the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). In accordance with the MPCC rules, Astana suspended itself for the season-ending Tour of Beijing last month as it had two doping cases in the team in the past 12 months.

On November 6, the team appeared at a UCI hearing in Geneva and a decision on its future for the next season is expected to be out in the next two weeks. The UCI’s License Commission is deciding whether or not to refuse Team Astana a license to race next year, or to attach conditions to their license.

Team Astana is facing legal complications from every corner. Recently, Astana rider Lieuwe Westra was caught by police on radar after he was found driving at 189 kilometers per hour (118mph) in the northern part of the Netherlands. Westra finished second in the Paris-Nice stage race in 2012 riding for Vacansoleil. He joined Astana this year to help Vincenzo Nibali win the Tour de France.

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Saturday 18, Oct 2014

  Astana Sends Invitation To Iglinskiy Brothers To Contact CIRC

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Astana Pro Team, a professional road bicycle racing team, has expressed a statement in which it has expressed regrets over the doping positives of Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy for Erythropoietin (EPO). The embattled Astana squad invited the Kazakhstani brothers to speak before the UCI’s Cycling Independent Reform Commission.

In a statement, the racing team sponsored by the Samruk-Kazyna said it has self-suspended its participation from the Tour of Beijing and is fully expecting a fine of up to 100,000 Swiss Francs (almost $105,000) from the UCI’s Disciplinary Commission for missing the Tour of Beijing. The Tour of Beijing is the last and one of the least highly regarded WorldTour race of the season. Astana following the protocol of the MPCC (Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible) will be fined by the world governing body of cycling for missing the Tour as it is a WorldTour race and all teams are required to attend under WorldTour regulations.

Under the rules of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC), Astana voluntarily suspended itself for eight days from racing and can therefore not take part in the Tour of Beijing.

The team, in a statement, said Astana Pro Team very much regrets that Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy unexpectedly returned adverse analytical findings for EPO, and understands that this unfortunate event has led to concerns over the efficiency of internal measures taken to ensure that riders do not use prohibited substances or methods. It added that Astana Pro Team is conducting an internal investigation, and wishes to reassure the UCI [the International Cycling Union] and general public that preliminary findings demonstrate the events are of an isolated nature, and that no other member of Astana Pro Team knew or took part. The statement also said Astana Pro Team will investigate the events more thoroughly in the following weeks, and will request an audit of its own stringent anti-doping policy to identify whether even stronger measures would be possible and legally enforceable. It also said Astana Pro Team is deeply disappointed that these events have occurred, and reaffirms its absolute zero-tolerance policy towards all incidents of doping and unethical activity.

The Team Astana statement also said Astana Pro Team looks forward to meeting with the UCI to listen to concerns that exist and to address directly any queries that it may have. It also said Astana Pro Team’s General Manager has provided the UCI with a copy of the current version of the anti-doping policy in place within the team, and also informed the UCI of measures adopted immediately to remind all of its riders and staff of their obligations under such anti-doping policy. The statement by the professional road bicycle racing team also said as part of the effort to underline its unwavering commitment to a clean sport, Astana Pro Team has also invited Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy to contact the CIRC (Cycling Independent Reform Commission) and will certainly implement recommendations contained in the CIRC’s report to help all teams in enforcing their own internal anti-doping rules.

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