Team’s Anti-Doping Measures Defended By Astana Doctor

Team Astana doctor Joost de Maeseneer has defended anti-doping policies of the team and claimed that Vincenzo Nibali was tested four times in a day when he wore Tour de France leader’s jersey last year.

In an article published on the Kazakh team’s website, de Maeseneer said involvement of the team in the Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC) means that they have to adhere to strict anti-doping measures. The doctor said we are members of the MPCC to check cortisol levels, we follow the no-needle policy, there are no outside supplements allowed, no outside trainers, we don’t use sprays – we think this is a good idea. De Maeseneer added we joined the MPCC in 2013 – not all the teams in the WorldTour are members of the MPCC and said that we think this should not be the case  He went on to remark that it adds to the overall number of blood tests we do in a year and said he would say the top riders are tested approximately no less than 50 times per year and also remarked that Vincenzo Nibali was once tested four times in 24 hours at the Tour.

The words of De Maeseneer came after the UCI, the world governing body of cycling, asked its License Commission to withdraw the WorldTour license of Team Astana after anomalies were thrown up during an independent audit in the team’s procedures. This recommendation was made by the UCI after it received audit on the Astana team’s practices from the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne. In a statement, the UCI revealed the audit revealed a big difference between the policies and structures that the team presented to the License Commission in December and the reality on the ground. The decision taken by the cycling’s governing body is not solely based on the audit as the UCI also reflected on evidence offered by Italian authorities in the context of Padova files that features a number of Astana riders.

The UCI statement also said the Italian authorities have provided the UCI with the sections of the Padova investigation which it has been authorized to share. It was also mentioned that as some evidence concerns Astana Pro Team members, the file has been passed to the License Commission as part of this referral and added the UCI for the sake of due process is not in a position to comment further on the content of the audit report, nor the Padova investigation, until the License Commission has assessed the situation and rendered its decision. But this decision to refer the matter to the License Commission was reached taking all circumstances and potential consequences into consideration.

Like Team Astana, De Maeseneer is not new to controversies. In his tell-all book The Secret Race, Tyler Hamilton said De Maeseneer gave illegal prescriptions to riders at team CSC. Jorg Jaksche said in a 2007 interview that he and his teammates took cortisone “all season long” in his 2004 year with team CSC. The doctor then replied that the team only worked with “ethical, professional way” and did not use prohibited substances. De Maeseneer indicated that the doping cases of Team Astana last year were not part of an organized system and were isolated events and remarked that the team has everything in place for riders who want to succeed without doping.

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