Astana must wait another week to find out whether the International Cycling Union (UCI) will grant them a World Tour licence for next season.
By
Cycling Central

7 Apr 2015 - 5:20 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:34 PM

The UCI issued a statement on Thursday in which it confirmed that licences had been granted to eight teams, taking the total of licenced outfits for 2015 up to 16.

But Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali's Astana team, which has been rocked by five recent doping scandals across its professional team and feeder Continental outfit, was not among them. French team Europcar, whose star rider is the charismatic twice former French champion Thomas Voeckler, is also without a licence.

"With regards to those two teams, the Licence Commission shall render its decision by the 10th of December at the latest. Further communication will be made afterwards," said the UCI.

The UCI grants 18 World Tour licences a year so if either of those two do not receive one, they would have to be replaced by one of the second division Professional Continental teams already granted their licences.

There had been speculation earlier in yesterday that Astana would be denied a World Tour licence due to a string of doping cases its been embroiled in, in the last 12 months.

Five Kazakh riders have tested positive for doping this year. Brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy failed tests for banned blood-booster EPO and three Continental team riders, Artur Fedosseyev, Victor Okishev and Ilya Davidenok, were caught taking steroids.

Consequently the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation suspended the Continental team and sacked their team manager Dmitri Sedoun. Officially, the Continental team is a separate entity from the Italian-based professional Astana team, although they carry the same name, are both linked to Kazakhstan and the one acts as a feeder team for the other.

Astana has been a part of the WorldTour peloton in one form or another since 2006. The team was instigated by Alexandre Vinokourov, who has a checkered history in the sport himself.