Just under three months after they were popping champagne corks and celebrating their nervously awaited WorldTour licence, Astana could find themselves without it again. Following the result of an audit, the UCI have requested that the Licence Commission revoke Astana’s licence.
Astana say that they are ready to work with the Licence Commission in light of the UCI’s request. “We are compelled to respect the decision that’s coming pending the due process of the independent commission’s decision,” the team told Cyclingnews. “The decision is not a UCI decision, it is not a team decision, it is the decision of the independent commission and if they want to call us again then we are willing to come and meet with them.”
Astana already told Cyclingnews that they were talking with their lawyers following the announcement. The team has been under scrutiny by cycling’s governing body after the Iglinskiy brothers Maxim and Valentin tested positive for EPO, followed by a stagiaire and two of the continental team riders testing positive for steroids. The UCI subsequently referred the case to the Licence Commission.
A day prior to the decision, documents from the Padova investigation were leaked and it was revealed that 17 current and former Astana riders had links with the banned doctor Michele Ferrari. It came too late to be considered in the Licence Commission’s final decision and they went onto award the licence to the Kazakh team in December but stated that they must adhere to stricter operational requirements and undergo an audit.
The Padova documents were later supplied to the University of Lausanne, who conducted the audit. The UCI itself cannot suspend Astana and the request has to be ratified by the Licence Commission before it becomes official. Astana say that they will comply with any demands from the Commission.
“If they want us to provide them with more information or to implement measures as they have promised to recommend then we will be happy to take those on and implement them as we can.”
The decision is expected in the coming days but no timeline has been put on it. If the Licence Commission chose to revoke the licence, Astana have 15 days to appeal the decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. As a WorldTour team Astana are automatically entered into Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico but they are also due to race at Strade Bianche and the Tour de Langkawi in the next two weeks.
It is unclear whether or not they will be free to race during that time. “We’re waiting for a decision from the independent licence commission,” they said, adding that: “we are still willing to participate at Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico.”