Team Astana is facing a UCI World Tour licence review after another one of its riders failed a drugs test. llya Davidenok was this week notified of an adverse finding for anabolic steroids.
This has led to the UCI to ask the Licence Commission to undertake a full review of the management and anti doping policies at Astana.
This third failed test follows that of Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy who had both failed drug tests earlier on in the season for EPO. Davidenok failed his test for anabolic steroids at August's Tour de l'Avenir, the junior Tour de France, where he won a stage.
He also went on to finish eighth in the Under-23 World Championships a month later. The failed test of another Kazakh rider reflects badly on the teams primary aim to promote Kazakhstan as a future leader in world sport and global power.
This increases what was already a large amount of doubt in the future of some of Astana’s riders, in particular that of Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali. If Astana were to have their UCI licence revoked, their entrance into cycling’s major races would be far from guaranteed.
“Will there be consequences for Astana’s WorldTour licence? I don’t know.” - Vincenzo Nibali
Nibali spoke out for the first time the other day about the Iglinkskiy brothers and the failed tests.
”You know how I think about doping. Anyone who tries to be clever like that is an imbecile,” Nibali told Gazzetta dello Sport. “Will there be consequences for Astana’s WorldTour licence? I don’t know.”
This isn't the first time a high profile cycling team has had their licence under investigation after Team Katusha had their UCI World Tour licence refused on ethical reasons for the 2013 season, this was on the back of far less public scrutiny.
They were eventually accepted onto the World Tour after a number of appeals through the court of arbitration for sport, but it shows that the UCI weren't afraid of potentially losing one of its high profile teams or riders from some of its showcase events.
This shows a change from the pass when the UCI would cover up failed tests from the sports biggest stars for the good of cycling.
Reluctance from UCI
This was confirmed by recently retired rider Thor Hushovd, who claimed that this was evident during the Lance Armstrong era where “it would have been a great loss for the UCI to catch Armstrong and reveal him as a drug cheat”.
Obviously the truth has now come out in Armstrong’s case, lets hope that the UCI are stronger this time when it comes to standing up to the drug cheats.