Alexandre Vinokourov has reportedly suspended the Astana Continental team following the fifth doping case in the Kazakhstani teams but is confident the WorldTour Astana team will obtain a UCI licence for the 2015 season.
On Wednesday the UCI announced that Artur Fedosseyev had tested positive for an anabolic androgenic steroids. Fedosseyev's positive test is the fifth doping case in just three months for Kazakhstani cycling, all coming from the Astana teams that include the WorldTour team of Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali and the Continental development team.
The two teams are managed separately but Vinokourov seems to have the power to suspended the Continental team. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Kairat Kelimbetov, the president of the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation, has resigned and has been replaced by Darkan Mangeldiev, a close friend of Vinokourov. The team and the Kazakhstani Federation has yet to formalise the suspension and changes.
The Astana WorldTour team is currently holding a training camp in Tuscany and Vinokourov moved to distance the WorldTour team from the Astana Continental team.
"The young riders are crazy if they still haven't understood that there is no place for doping in cycling," Gazzetta dello Sport reported Vinokourov as saying.
"I want this to be a signal, a blast in their ear of our Federation. As we've often requested, the Kazakh Federation has to do more controls and be more severe. They've got our full support.
"People have to understand that they (the Continental team) has nothing to do with this team (the Astana WorldTour team). The only thing we have in common is the jersey and the name."
In truth there are links between the two teams. Dmitri Sedoun is the team manager of the Astana Continental team but is also a directeur sportif of the WorldTour team. Gazzetta dello Sport speculates that he could also lose his role in the teams.
Despite the five doping case at the Astana teams, including the two cases of EPO in the WorldTour team and the on-going Biological Passport case concerning Roman Kreuziger when he rode for Astana, Vinokourov insisted the Astana team will secure a UCI WorldTour licence for the 2015 season. Vinokourov pleaded his case with the UCI Licence Committee on November 6. The UCI is expected to finally announce the 18 WorldTour teams in early December.
"There is no problem for the licence. We've given all the explanations that the were asked for," Gazzetta dello Sport report Vinokourov as saying.