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.
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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
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.
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.