The UCI has announced that the new sponsorship of the Astana-Würth team is permissible - for now. The team's ProTour licence came under scrutiny after main sponsor Liberty Seguros withdrew in the wake of the Operacion Puerto doping affair. A new sponsor was found very quickly: the Kazakhstani concern, Astana, but the UCI's ProTour Council (UPTC) wished to review it in light of the ethical issues raised by the Spanish investigation.
In a statement, the UCI said that the president of the UPTC had sent a file with all the information it had on the case to the Licence Commission: "On the basis of documents currently available, the Licence Commission has informed the UCI ProTour Council President that it cannot, to this day, take any decision as to the fate of UCI ProTour licences of teams affected by this case. The Licence Commission has confirmed that it is however ready to intervene at any moment should new information be submitted."
The team's financial state has been cleared by the UCI's accountants Ernst&Young, and the UPTC "has approved the new denomination of the 'Astana - Würth Team'. The UCI would also like to note that it is still waiting for information to be provided by the Spanish authorities to open, if necessary, disciplinary procedure as foreseen by the regulations regarding riders and other persons involved in this matter."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
April 2, 2009 - Valverde indignant over possible suspension
April 1, 2009 - Valverde: Italy requests two-year suspension
March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
February 24, 2009 - Spanish federation seeks access to Puerto blood bags
February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
February 19, 2009 - Valverde under criminal investigation
February 11, 2009 - Valverde summonsed for Operación Puerto in Italy
February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto