Team Astana may have their professional team licence lifted. The cycling team had five riders fail their doping tests in 2014.
The International Cycling Union(UCI) has requested that the team lose their status due to doping. There are allegations that the team has had connections with the disgraced Dr. Michele Ferrari, nicknamed the doping doctor. Dr. Ferrari was given a lifetime ban from any activity connected with professional cycling in 2012 due to his close association with Lance Armstrong.
The team has been on probation since last year when the failed tests were recorded. While they were granted a licence to race, more evidence of cheating has surfaced and it is likely that it will be recinded.
If Team Astanta is banned, last year’s winner of the Tour de France, Vincenzo Nibali will be unable to defend his victory. He was not one of the Kazakh’s team who failed their tests.
Team Astana has a chequered history. They arrived on the scene at the behest of Alexandre Vinokourov whose Spanish team was in trouble for doping. Vinokourov competed in the TDF 2007 and won two stages before crashing out. His blood samples pointed to cheating. The whole team was asked to leave. Vinokourov is currently the Astana general manager.
When Team Astana was allowed to compete in 2009, Johan Bruyneel master strategizer, brought Lance Armstrong to the group. This set up a negative dynamic between Alberto Contador and Armstrong. Both have failed drug tests.
It goes on. In 2012 Vinokourov was allowed back to professional cycling and won a major race. Later it was alleged that he bribed a competitor to let him take first.
The police in Padova Italy have submitted a lengthy report – The Padova Report which implicates 38 riders, many of them cycling stars, in the doping scandal. Of the 38, 17 are named as Astana members.
The biggest cycling race of the year starts July 4th in Utrecht, Netherlands. It always makes for an exciting three weeks. Perhaps some of the betting this year will revolve around who is “clean” and who is “dirty”.