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Monday 07, Sep 2015

  Team Astana Thrown Out Of MPCC Over Doping Issues

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The Movement for Credible Cycling has thrown out the Astana Cycling team after the professional road bicycle racing team sponsored by the Samruk-Kazyna failed to comply with strict anti-doping rules of the association at this year’s Tour de France.

In a statement on Friday, the MPCC said the board of directors of MPCC after hearing Team Astana representative Dmitriy Fofonov’s arguments have decided to exclude Team Astana for non-compliance with article 9 of the regulations. The MPCC statement added although cortisol hormones are an allowed medicine when prescribed by a physician, the use of that medicine has frequently been abused in the history of sports [including in cycling] for the purpose of increasing the performance. It was also added in the statement that a low level of cortisol can potentially endanger the health of athletes in certain circumstances. The MPCC statement also reads that MPCC and its member teams for both reasons and with the objective to contribute to restoring the credibility of cycling have introduced that voluntary norm below which its riders will temporarily withdraw from competition.

In July, Astana rider Lars Boom started the Tour despite showing low levels of cortisone in a test conducted on the eve of the race. Low cortisol levels can be explained by the use of corticoids, anti-inflammatory drugs that are allowed out of competition but forbidden while racing unless a therapeutic use exemption is granted beforehand to a rider. Under MPCC rules, Boom should have rested for eight days but UCI regulations did not forbid him from racing. Boom later withdrew ahead of stage 10 due to illness.

Team Astana defended Boom by remarking the cortisol reading was as a result of “a long-standing and well-known application of anti-asthma therapy by the athlete.” Team Astana tried to substitute Boom with another rider after the issue arose but the world governing body of cycling remarked it was too late for changes to the roster.

Commenting on the issue of Lars Boom, UCI President Brian Cookson had said Lars Boom has not broken any UCI or WADA rules, the issue of cortisol and cortisone has been referred to WADA’s scientific experts and at the present moment they have not recommended us or anyone else take action to include that within our rules.

Earlier this year, Team Astana managed to retain its WorldTour license for 2015 despite many of its riders failing to clear anti-doping tests. Kazakh brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinsky tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO. To add to the problems, three riders on the secondary Continental Tour team failed tests for anabolic androgenic steroids.

In another development, MPCC said it had heard Androni Giocattoli‘s case and added that it heard manager Gianni Savio’s arguments on the three positive cases in the past 16 months and added the squad had acted appropriately after the recent cases emerged. In June 2015, Patrick Facchini tested positive for Tuaminoheptane and the positive test of Fabio Taborre for FG-4592 came in last June and Davide Appollonio’s positive for EPO in the same month.

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Tuesday 17, Mar 2015

  Other Sports Should Order Independent Reports, Says Tour De France Boss

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Other Sports Should Order Independent Reports, Says Tour De France Boss

Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme has urged other international federations to “clean” and investigate their sport.

Ahead of the start of the last stage of Paris-Nice, Prudhomme said on Sunday that cycling had been at the forefront of the fight against doping after being haunted by many doping scandals. Prudhomme made these remarks after the International Cycling Union (UCI), the world governing body of cycling, published an independent report into the dirty past of cycling.

The Tour de France director was quick to welcome publication of the Independent Reform Commission’s (CIRC’s) report. Prudhomme remarked the CIRC report suggests that cycling, which became the sport that first implemented the biological passport in 2008, had shown great strength to deal with doping issues. Prudhomme added the report was ordered by the UCI and it exists because the management of the UCI wanted it, which shows that there have been improvements in a world that is not perfect but the fight against doping is a permanent fight. Prudhomme explained we are on the right track but we must not be complacent.

Prudhomme went on to remark that cycling was and is not the only sport that is hit with doping problems. He remarked cycling cannot be singled out and you cannot just put it in a corner and added that he thinks we all dream that all the international federations order an independent report to look into what’s going on in their patch. The director of the prestigious Tour de France event went on to say that the report by CIRC demonstrated that doping had not been entirely eradicated and was less prevalent with some riders still abusing corticoids and using micro-dosing to avoid detection.

The CIRC report is not exhaustive in nature. It has its share of shortcomings as the report drew conclusions with less than 6% of the interviewees being current professional riders. Prudhomme said he sees that many people from the UCI have been interviewed, which is logical because it was the primary goal of the report, but it would not have been shocking to see more professional riders being interviewed.

The UCI was quick to unveil a series of anti-doping recommendations after the CIRC report went public. The world governing body of cycling now wants night-time access to riders and “more robust” re-testing of their stored samples. The UCI will ask more of its independent anti-doping unit (CADF) and may recruit an intelligence manager to work with customs and law enforcement agencies. In addition to these recommendations, the UCI also plans to create a fit-and-proper test for team directors and doctors, re-launched whistleblower hotline, and faster prosecutions of biological passport cases.

Prudhomme applauded the recommendations and said there are already a lot of measures — just look at what cycling is doing compared with other sports. He added but the co-operation with the pharmaceutical industry is, I think, a great leap forward, which will bring quick results.

Prudhomme also said he is hopeful for a quick resolution of the Team Astana issue and remarked we all know that it can drag along. The Kazakh-funded outfit would lose their automatic Tour spot if the UCI License Commission accepts the request of the UCI and that would mean Vincenzo Nibali, the Tour de France 2014 winner, may lose out on starting the world’s greatest cycling race on July 4.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Other Sports Should Order Independent Reports, Says Tour De France Boss

Monday 09, Mar 2015

  Team’s Anti-Doping Measures Defended By Astana Doctor

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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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Monday 01, Dec 2014

  Astana Feeder Squad Suspended By Alexander Vinokourov

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Astana Feeder Squad Suspended By Alexander Vinokourov

Team Astana manager Alexander Vinokourov has reportedly provisionally suspended the Astana Continental Team. This step was taken after a third rider from its ranks failed anti-doping controls.

In August, rider Artur Fedosseyev tested positive on a sample taken at the Tour de l’Ain, while Victor Okishev and Ilya Davidenok both shown to have used anabolic androgenic steroids from samples taken at races in May and August, respectively.

Vinokourov seems to have used his influence to have the Astana feeder squad suspended despite the fact that he is not the manager of the continental squad. Vinokourov remarked people have to understand that Astana Continental Team has nothing to do with the Astana WorldTour team.

Kairat Kelimbetov, President of the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation, resigned and was replaced by Darkan Mangeldiev, a close friend of Alexander Vinokourov. In a statement, Team Astana said the managing board of Kazakhstan Cycling Federation has decided to suspend the activity of the Astana Continental Team while an internal investigation into doping cases is carried out and added Dmitri Sedoun, the general manager of Astana Continental team, has been dismissed from his position.

Vinokourov remarked the young riders are crazy if they still haven’t understood that there is no place for doping in cycling. The Astana general manager said he wants the provisional suspension to be a signal, a blast in their ear of our foundation. Vinokourov added people must understand that they have nothing to do with us. The only thing they have in common is the jersey and the name and added there is no problem for the license and remarked we have given all the information that we have been asked about.

Recently, Team Astana star rider Vincenzo Nibali said the four idiots (Iglinskiy brothers, who both popped for EPO, and Victor Okishev and Ilya Davidenok) have nothing to do with him. Nibali, winner of the Tour de France 2014 title, staunchly defended his team’s track record. Nibali expressed confidence that the team would be riding in the WorldTour next year after the license committee hearing.

Kazakh Cycling Federation (KCF) president Kairat Kelimbetov said the body, in conjunction with the Astana Pro Team management, will carry out a thorough investigation of the doping cases in the Continental team. Kelimbetov added our strategic policy is for clean Kazakhstan cycling and he can assure all that the investigation will be organized in full accordance with the UCI rules and its outcome to be announced in due course.

UCI president Brian Cookson said its four-member License Commission is presently reviewing the situation and license of Team Astana. Cookson remarked it is safe to say that everyone in the cycling world is very disappointed by this turn of events. The UCI President added but if we assume that there have been three cases [now five], that’s something that’s obviously very, very serious, and that’s why we’ve referred it to the licensing commission, asking them to look into all the issues around that and make recommendations as to what impact these issues should have on the license of Astana.

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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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Wednesday 22, Oct 2014

  Jakob Fuglsang May Leave Astana

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Jakob Fuglsang May Leave Astana

Danish rider Jakob Fuglsang has hinted that he may leave Team Astana if the professional road bicycle racing team sponsored by the Samruk-Kazyna loses WorldTour licence over doping cases.

Fuglsang was making this comment after three of his Astana teammates were announced as having tested positive in the past five and a half weeks. The Danish rider remarked such incidents are not good for his reputation and added such events are also not good of what people think about him. Fuglsang remarked he does not want anything to do with doping, and so we must hope that everything will be under control from now on and there will be no more cases and also added that there are no more on the team, who are trying to cheat the system.

On September 10, it was confirmed by the world governing body of cycling that Team Astana’s rider Valentin Iglinskiy had undergone a doping test and the A sample had revealed traces of Erythropoietin (EPO). Valentin waived the right to have his B sample tested and was fired from the Astana team. In a statement, Team Astana remarked Valentin has admitted to using prohibited substances on his own initiative and independently, without any consultation from the Astana Pro Team staff. The team statement reads in its wish for full transparency, Astana Pro Team has refused to defend a rider who failed to respect the rules and ethics as stipulated in his contract and who has failed to behave in a manner consistent with other riders in his team and within professional cycling.

The 30-year-old is a past winner of stages in races such as the Tour of Qinghai Lake, the Tour of Bulgaria, the Presidential Tour of Turkey and the Tour du Loir et Cher, and took the overall classification in the Tour of Hainan in both 2010 and 2011.

On October 1, it was revealed by the UCI’s list of provisionally suspended riders that Valentin’s elder brother Maxim Iglinskiy had also failed an A sample test for EPO.

Recently, llya Davidenok of Team Astana returned an Adverse Analytical Finding for anabolic androgenic steroids.

After the third positive test, the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) said it will ask its License Commission to undertake a full review of the management and anti-doping policies of the Astana Pro Team. The statement reads this 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 UCI statement also revealed that IIya Davidenok has ridden from 1st January 2012 to date for Continental Team Astana and since 1st August 2014 has also been a stagiaire with Astana Pro Team and added that the rider has the right to request analysis of the B sample and in accordance with UCI Anti-doping Rules has been provisionally suspended until the adjudication of the matter and at this stage of the procedure, the UCI will not comment any further on this individual case.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Jakob Fuglsang May Leave Astana

Tuesday 05, Apr 2011

  Team Astana welcomes suspension

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Team Astana welcomes suspensionThe provisional suspension given to Alberto Contador was supported by Team Astana but the team is waiting further testing.

Contador was informed of the test failed on 24 August and has been provisionally suspended by the International Cycling Union (UCI).

The Spaniard has signed a two-year contract to race with Team Saxo Bank from next season after rejecting an offer from Astana to a new contract.

Friday 01, Apr 2011

  Team Astana supports Contador suspension

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Team Astana supports Contador suspensionThe provisional suspension given to Alberto Contador was supported by Team Astana but the team is waiting for further evidence.

Contador was informed of the failed test on August 24 and has been provisionally suspended by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI).

The Spanish rider signed a two-year deal to race with Team Saxo Bank from next season after rejecting an offer from Astana for a new contract.