Astana Pro Team have been granted WorldTour licence status for the 2015 season after the UCI Licence Commission accepted their application after delaying an initial decision.
This is despite having two riders fail drugs tests last season and a number of riders in their youth development program being found guilty of doping, the Kazakh outfit will be riding in the biggest events on the cycling calendar next season.
The riders involved in this latest doping controversy in Astana’s sketchy history are Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy who both failed drug tests earlier on in the season for EPO, with Maxim competing in this season’s Tour de France and riding in support of race winner Vincenzo Nibali.
The UCI’s announcement of Astana being granted status also came on the same day as Team Europcar’s application being rejected due to a lack of team funding.
A statement on the team’s website announced the news: “Astana Pro Team is happy and proud to announce that we have received a 2015 World Tour License and will race at the highest level of the sport in the upcoming season.”
Kennaugh tweets his dismay
The news of Astana’s licence comes with anger from fans and fellow professional riders alike, Team Sky rider Peter Kennaugh tweeted his dismay at the decision: ‘What a joke this sport can be! The clean riders of the peleton need to get together and push these cheats out enough is enough.’
The announcement of the licence will frustrate the cycling community further after allegations of Dr Michele Ferrari was seen with the Astana team prior to the 2013 season. The infamous legendary doctor who played a huge part in Lance Armstrong’s doping program and (now revoked) Tour de France victories.
The pressure on UCI president Brian Cookson will now increase who promised a fresh start for cycling after he was elected last year.
Whether cycling has moved on from its shameful past may come down to what further evidence comes out and how Cookson reacts, otherwise cycling’s reputation may well be at a level it can’t come back from.