Astana has said it will carry out a full investigation after its riders Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy tested positive for EPO. The statement comes after the UCI said the team's record on doping may be scrutinised by the governing body’s Licence Commission
A UCI statement on Wednesday read:
"The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) views the positive tests for EPO by two riders of the same team as an extremely serious situation and one which raises questions about the management of the team and the ethics which are upheld within it.
"We will be discussing this with the team to see whether we are satisfied that they are doing all they can to ensure their riders do not use performance-enhancing drugs.
"Once we have reviewed the situation, we will see if there are changes we believe need to be made internally at the team or indeed whether we should attach conditions to their license going forward which are consistent with the WADA Code."
Speaking at the Giro d'Italia 2015 route presentation in Milan last weekend, UCI President Brian Cookson expressed similar sentiments, telling the Associated Press:
“I’m hopeful that these are two cases – which is two cases too many – but I’m hoping that they are isolated incidents and not symptomatic of a greater problem in the team.”
Astana yesterday responded with a statement of its own.
“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 substance or methods.
“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 Kazakh team is not riding the Tour of Beijing in keeping with the rules of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) which dictates that any team which has two positive tests within a 12-month period must suspend itself from racing for eight days.
Astana was also keen to point to its commitment to the MPCC as being evidence of its anti-doping stance, saying of its membership:
“Consequently Astana Pro Team holds itself to a standard in excess of those requirements mandated by the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) and by so doing is placing itself in technical violation of obligations to the UCI, for which Astana Pro Team expects to receive a sanction.
“In the meantime Astana Pro Team is conducting an internal investigation, and wishes to reassure the UCI and the general public that preliminary findings demonstrate that the events are of an isolated nature, and that no other member of Astana Pro Team knew or took part.
“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.”
Astana’s manager, Alexandre Vinokourov – who himself tested positive in the Tour de France in 2007 – has provided the UCI with a copy of the team’s anti-doping policy. The team has also ‘invited’ Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy to contact the CIRC (Cycling Independent Reform Commission).