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Responding to a statement issued Monday which deemed inaccurate a media claim that the UCI’s Licence Commission had already decided to revoke the Astana team’s WorldTour licence, the squad has indicated it is fully committed to holding onto its slot.
While the UCI said at the end of February that it wanted the Licence Commission to look into taking away that licence, the Kazakh team has spoke with cautious optimism about its chances of hanging on.
“Astana Pro Team has every reason to believe that our 2 April meeting with the UCI License Commission will be a properly conducted legal hearing which fully observes due process, and is not a foregone conclusion,” the team said in a statement.
“We welcome the UCI’s clarification on this matter this morning.
“At this hearing, Astana Pro Team intends to present clear evidence that not only is Astana Pro Team in full compliance with the UCI’s ethical criteria, but we are also taking proactive steps to enhance the role our team plays in the global fight against performance-enhancing drugs in cycling.”
The squad has been put in a difficult position due to a total of five positive tests between the WorldTour and Astana Continental teams since last August.
Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy tested positive for EPO while Kazakhstan’s national champion Ilya Davidenok, Artur Fedosseyev and Victor Okishev all tested positive for anabolic androgenic steroids.
The UCI initially gave the team a WorldTour licence but said that several factors would determine if it held onto that, including an audit by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL).
The findings of the latter prompted a stark statement by the governing body.
“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,” it said on February 26, essentially saying that the team had been misleading or even deceptive.
“In addition, the Italian authorities have provided the UCI with the sections of the Padova investigation which it has been authorized to share. As some evidence concerns Astana Pro Team members, the file has been passed to the Licence Commission as part of this referral.”
Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf claimed Monday that a decision to strip that licence had been made on March 20, but the UCI then said that claim was not true.
What happens next remains to be seen but, in public statements at least, the team is showing a degree of confidence that it can retain its position in the world’s top 17 squads.