UCI Licence Commission grant Kazakh team licence to race at the highest level next year, but Europcar miss out for failing to meet financial requirements

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Astana and the UCI have confirmed that the team has received a WorldTour licence from the UCI for the 2015 season, though UCI president Brian Cookson says the team can consider themselves “on probation.”

The Kazakh team had been referred to the UCI’s independent Licence Commission over doping scandals this year, but has been awarded the licence to race at cycling’s biggest races in 2015.

The UCI said that after an in-depth examination of the team, they would be awarding the licence based on a number of conditions and despite the Licence Commission stating that “the organisation of the fight against doping and the support personnel of the riders in place
until now by the team has defaulted.”

Cookson gave the team a stark warning despite the award of the licence however saying: “This remains a very serious situation for our sport given the number of doping cases.

“Meanwhile, the team will have to comply with the two requirements imposed by the Licence Commission. The combined effect of this is that the Astana Pro Team can be considered very much to be on probation.”

The first condition will see the team independently monitored by the  Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL).

The UCI stated that “the ISSUL will look into the circumstances of the doping cases at stake to determine whether and to what extent the team and or/its management is responsible of the recent events.

“Furthermore, it will assess the team’s internal structures, culture and management systems to understand whether these are adequate to ensure that the highest ethical standards are
upheld.”

ISSUL will release a report of its findings in February 2015, with the UCI reinforcing that it will be ready to revoke the licence should the team not meet up to the anti-doping standards that will be assessed.

Secondly, the team will have to adhere to the UCI’s ‘internal operational requirements’, which will become compulsory for all teams in 2017.

>>>A brief history of Astana scandals

The governing body also recognised the recent release of the findings in the Padova report, in which 10 Astana riders were implicated, but have yet to be sent the file for investigation. The UCI said ” “For the time being, the elements of this [Padova report] procedure are unknown to the UCI and the Licence Commission and no consequence can be drawn in this case at hand.

“The UCI would call upon the Commission if evidence against the team is established.”

Astana released a statement after the announcement on its official website saying: “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. Thanks to riders, staff, family, sponsors, friends and fans for your support.”

Giuseppe Martinell, Astana directeur sportif, gave reaction to Italian site Tuttobiciweb shortly after the announcement.

“We’ve been through some really difficult moments and the last few days haven’t been easy because there was obviously a lot of tension amongst the guys,” he said.

“Now finally the expected news has arrived. And now we can finally concentrate on getting ready for a great season. That’s the only thing that matters.”

Meanwhile, French team Europcar has had its licence rejected. Though, the UCI’s statement didn’t go into too much detail, it stated that “the Licence Commission estimates that the team does not fulfil the financial criteria.”

The UCI said it would exploring the possibility of registering the team as Pro Continental ranked squad for the 2015 season, meaning they wouldn’t automatically qualify for races like the grand tours and the classics.

>>>Astana implicated in Padova doping report

  • Diesel Cummins

    A team that has had controversy dogging it since it’s inception and one of the worst doping records ever as a team continues to race? A disgrace is the UCI intent on condoning doping? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss? I do hope not!

  • Bob

    Doh, sorry I wasn’t thinking – I just hope he’s in a TDF team next year, so gutsy – have a merry one too 🙂

  • Howie Bolt

    Amen Trefor..

  • Howie Bolt

    I know I was being funny,thats his nickname Popeye,don,t ya know.?….Astanas licence is a disgrace and Cookson is not in favour presently…Money talks eh?Looks like it..Merry Crimbo Bob

  • Trefor Jones

    Absolutely shocked and dismayed – the UCI may as well invite Lance back ! Cookson has lost a considerable amount of personal credibility whilst the UCI is falling to the same level as Fifa where money alone talks Astana should have been made an example of – riding too close to the wind I’m totally disillusioned !!

  • Bob

    I don’t know if you think you are being funny or not as I don’t get it – he’s currently riding for europecar and as they are not getting their licence wondered if he may be switching teams

  • Howie Bolt

    He,s doing Popeye 2….?

  • Bob

    anyone know what’s happening to Tommy Voeckler next year?

  • Eddie Prentice

    Showing a yellow card for what everyone else sees as a red card offence sends the wrong message to other teams and followers of pro cycling. Poor leadership from UCI once again.

  • Steve Wright

    Well, that is that little problem swept under the carpet then. What an absolute disgrace after all the words saying that the UCI was going to clean up the sport. That is obviously all it was, words.

  • Dabber

    The bad joke that is bike racing continues, The UCI’s hands may have been tied by their own rules but when does this sort of crap ever get fixed. No credibilty, no respect.

  • Quinny

    The sport of cycling ruined at world tour level. 🙁 Would LOVE to see clean teams and sponsors boycott it! Looks like money is UCI’s real interest, so some boycott would be a real message to them. I was supposed to be staying on Alpe d’Huez on July when the Tour rolls up it – cancelling that, the sport has been rubber-stamped as a joke at that level, so will head elsewhere away from the fakery and circus. Shame on you Brian Cookson, shame on you UCI. And sorry for the clean teams!!

  • Jim Golden

    Come on Mr Cookson… Astana in despite its drug record…Eurocar out of World Tour because of financial problem…priorities, priorities!!! You talked the talk now walk the walk. Something is wrong here.

  • James Cooper

    Agreed. While not in possession of all the facts or the UCI’s reasoning, at face value this decision stinks.

  • ILW

    Everyone should tweet @UCI_cycling & @BrianCooksonUCI to tell them how disgusted you are. While you’re about it tweet sponsors of other teams to tell them that this decision is tainting them all and they should consider whether they still want to be associated with this sport.

  • Rupert Rivett

    Ok well I am looking forward to Mr Cookson’s explanation for this decision. I am really confused why this has happened. Surely the right thing to do would be to ban the team and the key people involved from ever being involved in cycling again ? I must be missing some information, there has to be a good reason …… can’t for the life of me think what it can be so yes looking forward to Mr Cookson’s explanation.

  • Marco

    Fantastic news, come great leadership from Brian Cookson there, setting the tone for the 2015 season!

  • ILW

    Disgraceful. The UCI are not serious about doping. They’ve had yet another chance to clean up the sport and failed as miserably as ever. I am now seriously considering whether to stop supporting professional cycling at all. I hope the advertisers follow suit.