Astana will not be awarded a WorldTour licence for 2015 after two high profile doping cases of the Iglinskiy brothers and three other cases in its Continental team, according to reports in La Gazzetta dello Sport.
The UCI have yet to confirm whether the team will lose its licence, with the Licence Commission tasked with reviewing the team not due to make a final announcement until next week.
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If confirmed though, it will mean that the team of 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali will face a year without automatic qualification for some of the biggest races, relying on invitations to compete in the likes of the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France.
Astana management had already signalled its intent to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport should they lose the licence, while according to Gazzetta, the likes of Nibali and Fabio Aru could be contractually free to leave the team if they face a season without the WorldTour, although the former stated last week that he would remain with the Kazakh team.
Astana has a long history of various scandals since the team began, but with Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy both testing positive for EPO earlier this year, and with three of its Continental team riders failing tests, the team was placed under immediate scrutiny by the UCI and referred to its independent Licence Commission.
The UCI had previously said that the team was in “serious situation” over the doping cases, but both team manager Alexander Vinokourov (who subsequently suspended the Continental team) and Nibali were both confident that the team would recieve its WorldTour licence for 2015.
About the reports, Astana told Cycling Weekly: “All we know is that the decision willl be annouced next week.”