Astana promises to investigate ‘disappointing’ doping within team

Astana says it wants to reaffirm its 'absolute zero-tolerance policy towards all incidents of doping and unethical activity' in wake of Iglinskiy brothers' EPO positives

Kazakh team Astana promised in a statement yesterday to help investigate brothers Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy, adding it is ‘deeply disappointed’ with the EPO doping cases.

“Astana very much regrets [the doping cases] and understands that this unfortunate event has led to concerns over the efficiency of internal measures taken to ensure that riders do not use prohibited substance or methods,” said the team in a statement issues on Friday.

“Astana is deeply disappointed that these events have occurred, and reaffirms its absolute zero-tolerance policy towards all incidents of doping and unethical activity.”

After the two cases, within a month of one another, Astana withdrew itself from competition as part of its Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC) membership. Member teams, which includes 11 of 18 first division teams, agree to stop racing for eight days from the next WorldTour event if they have two or more doping cases in a 12-month span. Astana is sitting out the Tour of Beijing and two Italian one-day races.

In addition to the Iglinskiys, the team in turquoise has had a colourful past. It began from the ashes from Liberty Seguros and Operación Puerto, saw star rider and current manager Alexandre Vinokourov test positive at the 2007 Tour de France and came under fire in other incidents.

Cycling’s governing body, the UCI called it “an extremely serious situation” that reflects poorly on the team and its management.

“The UCI views the positive tests for EPO by two riders of the same team as an extremely serious situation and one which raises questions about the management of the team and the ethics which are upheld within it,” the UCI said in a statement this week.

“We will see if there are changes we believe need to be made internally at the team or indeed whether we should attach conditions to their licence going forward which are consistent with the WADA Code.”

Astana won the Tour de France with Italian Vincenzo Nibali in July with the help of Maxim Iglinskiy. The 33-year-old, winner of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and Strade Bianche, tested positive on August 1, the day before the Clásica San Sebastián.

In its Friday statement, the team explained that it wants to overcome the Iglinskiy incidents. It launched its own internal investigation and asked the Iglinskiys to speak with the Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC).

“[Astana] wishes to reassure the UCI and the general public that preliminary findings demonstrate that the events are of an isolated nature,” it said, “and that no other member of team knew or took part.”