Continental team, Konya Torku Sekerspor must enter themselves into the UCI’s biological passport programme if they hope to gain an invitation into this year’s Tour of Turkey.
The race organisers have come to an agreement with the sport’s governing body in an attempt to protect their race from further scandal. “We, as the organizing committee of Presidential Cycling Tour of Turkey, has decided not to take (invite) any team that do not have biological passport for the year 2014,” race director Abdurrahman Acikalin said in an email to Cyclingnews.
“This statement is already in our invitation letter to all invited teams. So far, we were informed that Konya Torku Sekerspor has already applied to WADA and UCI in order to get biological passport and follow the procedure, as required.”
The move comes after the last two winners of the race, Ivailo Gabrovski and Mustafa Sayar, tested positive for EPO after their victories. Gabrovski was handed a two-year ban and his victory was taken from him and handed to Astana’s Alexsandr Dyachenko.
Sayar’s victory remains intact, although he is still under investigation and remains suspended by the team. He has denied taking any banned substances and said he believed the positive test was a French conspiracy, as he had beaten French riders (second place actually went to Natnael Berhane (Europcar), who is Eritrean).
There is no guarantee that the Konya Torku team will be able secure a spot on the biological passport. In the past, the UCI have rejected riders who race on the Continental circuit. In 2012, Endura Racing tried to put Jonathan Tiernan-Locke onto the programme, but that request was denied.
Cyclingnews contacted the Konya Torku Sekerspor team, and received the following response from a team spokesman. "Torku Sekerspor will continue as Continental team in 2014. Our team made an official application for the biological passport to UCI in November 2013. They will give to us info how to get biological passport, so we are waiting info from them.
"We are ready for the biological passport, we are just waiting for direction from UCI and WADA. We are ready for take part in Tour of Turkey and, therefore, we are still working and training all our abilities. As such these rumors really do upset us. Don't believe them. Our team is reputable, the team in Turkey and also Europe."