Astana 'shocked' after former rider Lieuwe Westra admits faking injury to receive TUEs

Kazakh team say they may push former rider for compensation

Lieuwe Westra leads the peloton on stage four of the Tour Down Under
(Image credit: Yuzuru Sunada)

Astana have stated their "shock" after former rider Lieuwe Westra admitted to faking injuries in order to receive therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) to allow him to use cortisone in-competition during his time on the team.

Dutchman Westra, who retired at the start of the 2017 season, has admitted that he feigned injuries that allowed him to receive TUEs while riding for Vacansoleil-DCM and Astana between 2009 and 2016.

The TUEs allowed him to use cortisone drugs, powerful painkillers and anti-inflammatories, which are banned in-competition by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

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"I received the TUE often with a feigned injury, for example an inflamed knee," Westra says in his new book, The Beast: The cycling life of Lieuwe Westra, which is released next week.

"I shot [the drugs] into my own body to cycle faster, to grab prizes, to receive compliments. In my first professional year it became clear to me that with no victories were achieved purely through hard training," Westra admits in the book. "If you wanted to join the big boys, you had to push the limits of the permissible.''

The Vacansoleil team is no longer in existence having gone out of business in 2013, but Astana, the team with which Westra spent the final three years of his professional career, issued a strong rebuke to the 35-year-old's claims, even hinting that they may seek compensation from the former rider.

"We’re shocked to read about Lieuwe Westra and his use of drugs in the period he had a contract with Astana Pro Team, as the team never provided him with any of the medicines that are mentioned in the media today," read a statement from the team.

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"We’re shocked about the news and we want to make clear that at Astana Pro Team forbidden drugs are never and will never be provided to any rider.

"In case that the use of prohibited drugs really took place, Astana Team reserves the right to demand financial compensation from the rider, since the use of doping is strictly prohibited by the internal regulations of the team, which is signed by each rider."

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Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.