Cycling

Vinokourov defends Astana

Alexandre Vinokourov (AFP Photo)
Alexandre Vinokourov (AFP Photo)

Paris - Astana manager Alexandre Vinokourov says his team have nothing to hide with the Kazakh-funded outfit about to be audited in following doping affairs which threatened their elite status.

Astana, the team of Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, were granted a World Tour licence for 2015 by the International Cycling Union on Wednesday, but will be audited by the University of Lausanne next year to assess the team's governance.

The World Tour licence gives automatic entry to the top races, including the Tour de France.

"We have nothing to hide. We are transparent," Vinokourov, who tested positive twice on the 2007 Tour de France for blood doping, told the Sport Zakon website (www.sport.zakon.kz) on Friday.

Two riders from the Astana World Tour team, the Kazakh brothers Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy, tested positive for EPO in September, as well as trainee Ilya Davidenok and two members of the Continental (third-division) team.

But for 2012 Olympic champion Vinokourov, the Iglinskiy brothers' -- the other three were technically not his responsibility -- positive tests were a "one-time" thing.

"There is no systematic doping," the Kazakh added.

Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport said on Monday that Italian magistrates investigating doping and tax evasion within cycling teams had evidence that doctor Michele Ferrari had visited an Astana training camp in November last year.

Ferrari, who was banned for life in 2012 for his implication in the Lance Armstrong scandal, denied the reports on Tuesday and Vinokourov said that although he once worked with the disgraced doctor, he had not done so since 2007.

"I said back in 2007 that I had worked with him, but not after that," he said.

The UCI said on Wednesday that the Licence Commission could not take the Padua investigation under consideration because it had not yet had access to the case file.

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