Cookson calls Astana links to Ferrari 'very serious'

UCI President Brian Cookson has called accusations that the Astana team engaged in systematic doping through its links with banned physiologist Michele Ferrari "new and very serious", but qualified the pending decision of the UCI licencing commission on the team's WorldTour status, saying the commission had not yet considered the allegations when it made its report on Astana.

The Astana team of Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali had its WorldTour licence brought into question after two riders, brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy, tested positive for EPO, and trainee Ilya Davidenok tested positive for an anabolic steroid.

The commission's decision on Astana's status was set to be announced at 17:00 CET today, but Cookson promised to study the allegations, which were published in Gazzetta dello Sport today, that team manager Alexandre Vinokourov, himself a former client of Ferrari, maintained a close relationship and referred at least 10 riders to the trainer in 2010.

Only three of the riders on the list of 38 alleged Ferrari clients were on the 2014 Astana team, including Borut Bozic, Michele Scarponi, who served a ban for his involvement in Operacion Puerto, and Valentin Iglinskiy, who has been fired by the team after admitting to doping.

Cookson called the allegations "new and very serious" according to AFP, and promised his organisation would study the documents once they've been obtained from the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) prosecutor.

"We will make a decision in good time through due process," Cookson said, quickly steering the comments towards cycling's successes in the anti-doping fight.

"I have always held the view that doping was not a practice solely restricted to the sport of cycling. In my view there are two groups of sports: There are those that have a doping problem and are actively trying to do something about it and I would like to say that we are in a leading position on that.

"And there are those sports that have a doping problem and are still pretty much in denial about it. And sooner or later they are going to have their problems."


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