PARIS (Reuters) - The Astana team face a thorough investigation after two of their riders failed dope tests recently, the International Cycling Union (UCI) said on Wednesday.
Kazakh brothers Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy failed a test for the banned blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO) in August shortly after Astana, managed by former doper Alexandre Vinokourov, won the Tour de France through Italian Vincenzo Nibali.
“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) views the positive tests for EPO by two riders of the same team... as an extremely serious situation and one which raises questions about the management of the team and the ethics which are upheld within it,” the UCI said in a statement.
”We will be discussing this with the team to see whether we are satisfied that they are doing all they can to ensure their riders do not use performance-enhancing drugs.
“Once we have reviewed the situation, we will see if there are changes we believe need to be made internally at the team or indeed whether we should attach conditions to their license going forward which are consistent with the WADA Code.”
Astana already have a World Tour (elite) license for 2015.
The Kazakh-funded outfit is a member of the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Credible (Movement for Credible Cycling or MPCC), which enforces stricter anti-doping rules than the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
As per those rules, Astana suspended themselves for the season-ending Tour of Beijing which starts on Friday because they have had two doping cases in the team in the past 12 months.
They will, however, face a fine from the UCI because the governing body’s regulations state that World Tour teams must take part in all World Tour events.
“We confirm that the financial penalties contained in the UCI Rules under such circumstances will indeed be applicable,” the UCI said.
“The final decision regarding the fine will be made by the UCI Disciplinary Commission. Until a decision has been reached, the UCI will not comment any further on this issue.”
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Steve Tongue