The International Cycling Union (UCI) has said Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali can ride in this year's Tour de France after his Team Astana managed somehow to retain its WorldTour license despite a string of doping cases.
In February, the world governing body of cycling said it wanted its License Commission to strip Team Astana of WorldTour license following an investigation into doping after many riders from the team failed tests last season. Last year, Kazakh brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinsky both tested positive for Erythropoietin (EPO) while three members of the Continental Tour squad (trainee Ilya Davidenok and two members of Astana’s continental development team - Artur Fedosseyev and Victor Okishev) tested positive for anabolic androgenic steroids.
The UCI License Commission met a few days back and agreed that the team should retain its license subject to strict monitoring of a number of special measures proposed by experts at the University Of Lausanne (ISSUL).
In a statement, the UCI said ISSUL on the initiative of the License Commission were asked to propose special measures which the team will be obliged to put in place at specific times over the rest of this season. The statement also read that the team is committed to respecting all the measures recommended by ISSUL but the team's license is subject to strict monitoring of the conditions laid down. It was also added that the License Commission shall be able to re-open the proceedings if Astana fails to respect one or several of the conditions imposed, or if new elements arise.
A brief statement was released on Astana after the decision was announced. The team said it is happy with the ruling and now just wanted to concentrate on racing. The statement said Astana Pro Team is grateful to the License Commission for the opportunity to present the team's commitment to observing the UCI's ethical criteria and added that Astana Pro Team is committed to respecting all measures recommended by ISSUL, and to collaborate in the implementation of further measures that enhance our procedures above and beyond the UCI's minimum requirements.
The World Tour license guarantees its holder direct participation to elite races including the Tour de France, the Paris-Roubaix classic, and the Giro d'Italia.
The decision of the UCI License Commission came under severe criticism with the AIGCP (Association International des Groupes Cyclistes Professionels) saying that it requests the license commission to make the reasoning public, for the sake of transparency towards the fans, the media and fellow cycling teams. The AIGCP added we feel that there are discrepancies between the public statements of the UCI on several occasions on this case and the outcome of the process and also said it is harmful to our sport for the international federation to prejudge a case against anyone if that case hasn’t been brought forward to the right instances and that hasn’t come to a conclusion.
Governance of the UCI also came under criticism by FDJ manager Marc Madiot. The FDJ manager said banning the use of corticosteroids would have been a more concrete and cost-effective anti-doping measure than the Cycling Independent Reform Commission that submitted its report last month.