The ASO decision has generated a stinging response from the director of Astana, Johan Bruyneel, who was also the director of the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel squads that secured some eight TdF victories with Lance Armstrong (1999-2005) and Alberto Contador (2007).
Bruyneel came out of a very short retirement to be the new director of the Astana team, which is sponsored by a conglomerate of companies from Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan. Last year, the team was expelled from the 2007 Tour de France after its star rider, Alexander Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping.
"Since breaking with the ProTour, Tour de France is free to issue its own invitations," Bruyneel said in an official team statement. "After the non selection for the Tour of Italy [Giro d'Italia], we knew that there would be a chance that ASO as well could consider not to invite us," he said. "The Giro argument, that we do not come to the race with our best riders, is no longer valid. With Tour number one and three of last year, Alberto Contador and Levi Leipheimer, and with two times runner up Andreas Klöden, we maybe have a too strong team now?"
Bruyneel grappled to find reasoning behind the decision, wondering as well, "Is Astana this year a victim of the war between UCI and ASO?" in a reference to the ongoing battle between he sport's ruling body and the owner of cycling's biggest races.
"ASO asked us in December [for] open communication. We communicated a lot but never got a reply. ASO has probably the right not to invite us", he said. "They want to augment the credibility of their races after the happenings of last year. Unfortunately, Tour the France will lose now much of its credibility by not letting participate some of world's best riders, who even were never were implied in doping scandals [sic]. The name of Alberto Contador was sometimes linked to the famous Puerto affair. A Spanish judge cleared him. Even afterwards, Alberto was always available for justice to give required information. He really has nothing to do with that sad affair."