PARIS (Reuters) - Astana are expecting to learn whether they retain their World Tour (elite) license in about two weeks, a source within the Kakazh-funded team told Reuters on Monday.
Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reported that the International Cycling Union’s Licence Commission was to strip Astana, the team of Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, of their license following a series of positive anti-doping tests last season.
“No hearing has yet taken place in the Astana case and therefore no decision has been made,” the UCI said in a statement to Reuters.
Astana had until March 20 to submit all documents in their defense to the Commission and are planning to send a team to be heard on Thursday in Switzerland, the source said.
Members of the Kazakh federation, sports directors, riders and the head doctor will travel to the April 2 meeting.
“We’ve been told it would then take about 10 days, so after Paris-Roubaix,” the source said.
The UCI said in February it wanted the sport’s licensing commission to strip Astana of their elite status.
Kazakhstan-based Astana were only granted their World Tour license for 2015 “under probation”.
But the UCI released a statement on Feb. 27 saying it wanted the license withdrawn after finishing a review of an audit on Astana which was undertaken by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUE).
The World Tour license guarantees its holder direct participation in the top races, including the Tour de France, the Paris-Roubaix classic and the Giro d‘Italia.
Several Astana riders failed dope tests last season. The UCI agreed to grant the team a license but only on the condition that it underwent an independent audit.
If Astana are stripped of their license, they would be able to take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Editing by Ed Osmond