UCI president Brian Cookson says no decision will be made about what action to take against Astana once the governing body’s Licence Commission has issued its report on its investigation into the Kazakh team, due this week.
Since October, the commission has been conducting an investigation into the management and anti-doping policies of the Astana team after brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy both tested positive for EPO.
Speaking to the Observer’s William Fotheringham at this weekend’s Track World Cup in London, Cookson said: “We’re waiting for the Licence Commission to make their report, then we’ll decide, based on what they recommend, what action will be taken.
“I think you will appreciate my view is extremely dim of that situation,” Cookson went on, saying that he was aware that the Kazakh federation was “extremely disappointed” with the situation.
Last Thursday, when it confirmed the teams so for granted WorldTour licences for the 2015 season, the UCI said that a decision was due on Astana by next Wednesday 10 December.
Cookson said: “I understand the Licence Commission will be in touch with UCI management in the next few days. I have to wait to see what they have to say.
“They can make the recommendation but the management committee takes the action. What I have to do and what the UCI has to do is apply the rules, not make them up – we have to look at what powers we have under the rules and what is an appropriate sanction for when a team or an individual breaks the rules.”
The investigation will also look at Astana’s under-23 team, which races at UCI Continental level. When the Licence Commission launched its probe in October, one member of that team had been revealed to have tested positive for steroids and since then two other riders have failed drugs tests.
That led Astana general manager Alexandre Vinokourov to suspend the under-23 team from racing, however one of its riders appeared at the Track World Cup in Kazakh national colours. Nikita Panassenko partnered compatriot ArtyomZakharov in the event, the pair finishing 12th.
Speaking ahead of that race, Cookson said: “As I understand it the rider here is representing the Kazakh Nat team, not Astana. I am not aware formally of any disciplinary action by the Kazakh Federation against any riders.
“At the UCI we have no knowledge of any action being taken against the Astana Continental team. All anti-doping legislation is based on individual sanctions, not a team, so we can’t just dream up suspensions. If a team self-suspends that’s a different matter.”
A statement from the governing body said: “Astana Continental team must be distinguished from the national federation as the team’s representative/sponsor is not the federation, but a commercial owner.
“Therefore, riders cannot race under the banner of the Continental Team, however they are not banned from events where they can register on their own or for the national team, for example. Astana Track team is not the same entity as the Continental Team.”
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.