Alexander Vinokourov has reportedly suspended the Astana Continental Team after it was announced yesterday that a third rider from its ranks has failed anti-doping controls.
Rider Artur Fedosseyev tested positive on a sample taken at the Tour de l’Ain in August, while Victor Okishev and Ilya Davidenok both shown to have used the same banned substance, anabolic androgenic steroids, from samples taken at races in May and August respectively.
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According to Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, while Vinokourov is not the manager of the continental squad, he appears to have used his influence to have the team provisionally shut-down, and the Kazakh Cycling Federating swiftly backed him up to formally suspend team activity.
Vinokourov, whose own riding career was consistently linked with doping scandals, is keen to distance himself and the WorldTour team from the negative activity in the lower division squad.
“People have to understand that they [Astana Continental Team] has nothing to do with this team [Astana WorldTour team],” Vinokourov told Gazzetta dello Sport, “ The only thing we have in common is the jersey and the name.”
But the coinciding of the postive tests of the Iglinskiy brothers and the Continental Team scandals, has lead to a spotlight being placed on the WorldTour team. Dmitri Sedoun, who operates as a directeur sportif on both teams, is another obvious link between the two, with Gazzetta reporting that his position is now seriously under threat.
“I want this to be a signal,” Vinokourov said on the suspension of the Continental Team, “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.”
“The young riders are crazy if they still haven’t understood that there is no place for doping in cycling,” he said.
Astana has experienced a long history of scandals since its initial inception, and the latest doping violations, as well as the fact the Roman Kreuziger Biological Passport case is based around abnormal findings during his time at Astana, has lead the UCI to place the team’s WorldTour licence under review.
2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali recently said he was confident that the team would be riding in the WorldTour next year after its licence committee hearing, while Vinokourov is also sure the licence will be awarded for 2015.
“There is no problem for the licence,” he said. “We’ve given all the explanations that the were asked for.”
The UCI previously said that Astana was in a “serious situation” over the latest scandals, and news of whether the team will be granted a WorldTour licence should be announced in early December.
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Continental Team Astana rider Victor Okishev fails test for anabolic androgenic steroids in May