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Fourth positive test at Astana as U23 rider Victor Okishev fails doping control

Kazakh team's WorldTour licence is currently under review following earlier cases...

Victor Okishev, a 20-year old rider with the Astana Continental team, has been provisionally suspended after returning an adverse analytical finding for Anabolic Androgenic Steroids.

The news could not come at a worse time for the Kazakh team, whose WorldTour licence is being reviewed by the UCI Licence Commission following a succession of riders failing doping controls.

Okishev’s positive result arose from a sample taken at the Asian Championships in May, where he won the under-23 time trial.

He is the second rider from Astana’s development team to have tested positive for the substance after Ilya Davidenok was confirmed as having done so last month.

Davidenok’s positive sample was taken at the Tour de l’Avenir in August, the same month in which he joined the senior squad as a stagiaire.

Two riders from the WorldTour squad, the brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy, had earlier been confirmed as testing positive for EPO in August this year, with Valentin admitting he had used it and Maxim declining to request an analysis of his B sample.

Astana, which is a member of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) subsequently withdrew from the Tour of Beijing in accordance with that organisation’s rules, while the UCI announced its Licence Commission would review the senior team’s WorldTour licence.

A hearing took place a fortnight ago, and the UCI is expected to announce its decision shortly. While the WorldTour and Continental teams are operated by separate management companies, both share a number of sponsors and the under-23 team’s manager, Dmitri Sedoun, is a sports director of the senior team.

It is believed that the UCI LIcence Commission's review is based on the activities of both teams as a result of those three earlier postive tests.

Last month, Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, who shortly after his victory in that race described doping as “abhorrent,” said he was confident that Astana would retain its WorldTour licence.

He said: "I don't think there are big problems for Astana's licence. The incidents that happened concern the Iglinskiy family, it's a separate thing.

"As a team we can't respond to what two brothers got up to. As for the last one [Davidenok], he's not one of ours, he's part of the Continental team and is not managed by us but by someone else.

"Certainly things happened a few years ago but the team has changed and it's also my responsibility to give more clarity on my part," he added.

"But there is great serenity in the team in terms of my way of racing and my sporting seriousness in these years."

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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