The UCI has requested the withdrawal of Astana’s Pro Team licence following an independent review of the team’s anti-doping culture and policies.
One of the conditions of the team receiving a WorldTour licence for the 2015 season was that an audit by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanna (ISSUL) would take place.
That followed the failed doping tests in 2014 of Kazakh brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy and three Kazakh-based members of Astana’s development team.
ISSUL looked at the team’s anti-doping culture, policies, structures and management systems and, after ‘careful review of this extensive report’, the UCI have referred the matter to the Licence Commission.
A UCI statement read: “The UCI considers that the ISSUL audit has, among other things, revealed a big difference between the policies and structures that the team presented to the Licence Commission in December and the reality on the ground.
“In addition, the Italian authorities have provided the UCI with the sections of the Padova investigation which it has been authorised to share.
“As some evidence concerns Astana Pro Team members, the file has been passed to the Licence Commission as part of this referral.
“For the sake of due process, the UCI is not in a position to comment further on the content of the audit report, nor the Padova investigation, until the Licence Commission has assessed the situation and rendered its decision.”
The news places Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali’s future in question, with the Italian the team’s star rider.
If the team’s UCI WorldTour licence was to be revoked then the squad would team lose guaranteed starting berths at the season’s leading races – including the three Grand Tours.
The UCI’s statement UCI continued: “This decision to refer the matter to the Licence Commission was reached taking all circumstances and potential consequences into consideration.”