Astana could face UCI fine for Tour of Beijing withdrawal

The Union Cycliste Internationale has confirmed that a fine could be handed down to Astana after the team suspended itself from racing following the recent positive tests for EPO by Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy. According to the UCI’s rules, Astana could face a fine of up to 100,000 CHF for missing the Tour of Beijing, although more worrying for the team could be the UCI’s investigation into the team’s management and conduct.

On Monday, the Kazakh team took the measure of imposing a self-suspension in line with the guidelines of the Movement for Credible Cycling. MPCC rules state that member teams who return two positive tests within a twelve-month are required to sit out eight days of racing.

Although the timing of Astana’s confirmation of the voluntary suspension caused controversy, their decision means that they will miss the Tour of Beijing, the final WorldTour race in the UCI’s calendar.

Teams can be fined by the UCI if they fail to submit complete rosters for WorldTour races and Astana’s complete absence – although in line with the MPCC stance – goes against the UCI’s position.

“Questions have been raised as to whether the UCI will apply its rules regarding fines for UCI WorldTour teams if Astana Pro Team does not race at the Tour of Beijing as a result of the team suspending itself. We confirm that the financial penalties contained in the UCI Rules under such circumstances will indeed be applicable” the UCI told Cyclingnews in an email.

“The final decision regarding the fine will be made by the UCI Disciplinary Commission. Until a decision has been reached, the UCI will not comment any further on this issue.”

According to rule 2.15.128 of UCI’s Cycling Regulations “in the event of unjustifiable absence, withdrawal or giving up, the UCI ProTeam shall be liable to a fine of between CHF 10,000 and 20,000 payable to the UCI WorldTour’s reserve and solidarity fund. For stage races, the fine shall be multiplied by the number of days’ racing remaining on the day of the absence, withdrawal or giving up.”

When MPCC member Ag2r-La Mondiale withdrew from the Critérium du Dauphiné last year in similar circumstances, however, the UCI decided not to impose any fine following deliberations by its Pro Cycling Council.

The UCI outlined its concerns about Astana’s recent positive EPO tests just as it included the team on the provisional list of WorldTour licence holders for 2015. The licence will only reach the final approval stage next month, and Astana must conform to the UCI’s Licensing Commission guidelines over a number of criteria, including an ethical test. The UCI has confirmed that the team’s recent doping cases would be looked at and admitted that “questions had been raised over the team’s management.”

“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) views the positive tests for EPO by two riders of the same team – Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy – as an extremely serious situation and one which raises questions about the management of the team and the ethics which are upheld within it,” the UCI confirmed.

“We will be discussing this with the team to see whether we are satisfied that they are doing all they can to ensure their riders do not use performance enhancing drugs. Once we have reviewed the situation, we will see if there are changes we believe need to be made internally at the team or indeed whether we should attach conditions to their licence going forward which are consistent with the WADA Code.”

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