Cycling

Astana retain World Tour licence

Vincenzo Nibali (AFP)
Vincenzo Nibali (AFP)

Paris - Doping-scandal tainted Astana, whose leading rider is this year's Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali, were on Wednesday granted a World Tour licence for the 2015 season by the International Cycling Union.

However, the UCI said that, while the licence had been granted, Astana would have to agree to conditions, including being audited by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne, who will "determine whether and to what extent the team and or/its management is responsible of the recent events" relating to doping offences.

In addition, they must adhere from 2015 to the "internal operational requirements", a set of measures which will be compulsory for all World Tour teams from 2017.

The future of Kazakh-based Astana had been hanging in the balance after the UCI asked for a full review of the team's anti-doping policies.

That was after brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinksy, and three riders from the Astana Continental team, tested positive for banned substances in the past year.

In addition, the UCI have also said they will study allegations made by Italian media that Astana met banned doping doctor Michele Ferrari last year.

UCI president Brian Cookson said: "This remains a very serious situation for our sport given the number of doping cases. We shall be following the situation very closely and are awaiting to review the results of the audit.

"Meanwhile, the team will have to comply with the two requirements imposed by the Licence Commission. The combined effect of this is that the Astana Pro Team can be considered very much to be on probation."

Meanwhile, the sport's governing body also denied a licence to French outfit Europcar, estimating that "the team does not fulfil the financial criteria".

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