• Astana compete in the Tour de Romandie (Getty Images)
The International Cycling Union has published the Licence Commission's reasoned decision for allowing Astana to retain its WorldTour licence after a series of doping infractions.
By
Cycling Central

6 May 2015 - 7:36 AM  UPDATED 6 May 2015 - 7:41 AM

Astana escapes UCI licence penalty
The Astana team of 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali has survived a review of its top-tier racing status ordered after several doping cases.

The Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne, who audited the case, concluded that Astana Pro Team’s commitments “are of a nature that enable it to undergo a fundamental reform in order to prevent the risks of doping.”

As a result the Kazakh team is allowed to retain its place in the top tier of the sport, however it will be monitored by the Licence Commission.

"We are pleased to note that Astana Pro Team has committed to a process of in-depth reforms thanks to this procedure initiated before the Licence Commission," said UCI President Brian Cookson.

"Taking into account that the team will be under the supervision of the ISSUL and monitored by the Licence Commission for the rest of the 2015 season, we are satisfied by this decision which we believe is proportionate.

“We are confident of the fact that the measures that the team has committed to put in place will help it improve its culture, its structures and its systems for governing anti-doping. We believe it is our responsibility to accompany each UCI WorldTeam towards increased professionalism and we firmly believe that the application of the ‘cahier des charges’ will contribute towards this. Finally, I would like to thank the ISSUL for its expertise and its collaboration both during this procedure and in the establishment of the ‘cahier des charges’.”

The UCI has published the full seven-page document which is in French, with an English translation to be made available shortly.

Full UCI Press Release:

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) announces that it has today received the reasoned decision from the Licence Commission (1) to suspend the procedure for the withdrawal of the Astana Pro Team’s licence.

As announced, the UCI is in this case publishing the decision in its entirety. A copy of the decision is available below (in French only. English translation will be made available on www.uci.ch in due course).

This procedure entailed a complete examination of the anti-doping policies and governance within Astana Pro Team. The Licence Commission pointed out that “if a team cannot objectively be held responsible solely based on the incidence of doping cases within its ranks, it is possible however to require the team to create a system of preventative and dissuasive measures able to contribute as effectively as possible to the fight against doping.”

It is in this spirit that in December 2014, based on measures put in place and announced by Astana Pro Team, the Licence Commission made the team’s registration for the 2015 season dependant on the team undergoing an independent audit by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL) (2) as well as it fulfilling a set of internal operational requirements (“cahier des charges”) (3). In its decision of December 04, 2014, the Licence Commission clarified that “In the event that the audit would lead to reveal deficiencies or in case of faulty implementation of the internal operational requirements or if another doping case would occur within the Team during the 2015 season, the UCI would refer the matter to the Licence Commission for a determination on an eventual withdrawal of the licence.”

The ISSUL therefore carried out an organisational audit of the Astana Pro Team during January 2015 and submitted its report on February 10, 2015. After careful examination, including the holding of two hearings where the parties and the ISSUL were heard, the Licence Commission considered that “the ISSUL report, meticulous and corroborated, highlighted the flaws in this team in 2014,” justifying the UCI’s request for a licence withdrawal.

On this basis, after recalling that “the withdrawal of a licence is the most serious sanction that a UCI WorldTeam can face” and that “such a sanction should only be imposed if other less restrictive sanctions cannot be envisaged,” the Licence Commission judged that it appeared that the majority of negative points raised in the ISSUL report were capable of improvement in the coming months, that since November 2014 the Astana Pro Team had started to implement the reorganisation of its anti-doping, along with the commitment of Astana Pro Team to adhere strictly to the remedial action recommended by the ISSUL.

The Licence Commission therefore judged that the Astana Pro Team’s commitments “are of a nature that enable it to undergo a fundamental reform in order to prevent the risks of doping.”

In view of the above, the Licence Commission arrived at the following conclusion:

“At this stage, in view of the modifications that have already taken place, those that are announced, the commitment to adhere to the conditions laid down by the ISSUL with the approval of and under the supervision of the Commission, and the absence of further incidents since autumn 2014, it is found that the sanction of a withdrawal, motivated mainly by facts of the past, would not, as of today, respect the principle of proportionality.”

In the light of these conclusions, the Licence Commission has decided:

• “It is noted that the Team has committed to conform to measures recommended by the ISSUL and that this commitment is formalised in a document signed by the UCI WorldTeam Astana, the ISSUL and the Licence Commission;

• “The respect of this commitment is to be monitored by the ISSUL under the supervision of the Commission;

• “The procedure of the withdrawal of the licence of the UCI WorldTeam Astana is suspended. That means, the registration of the UCI WorldTeam Astana for 2015 is maintained;

• “In the case of non-compliance with the terms of agreement, the ISSUL will notify the Commission, which can at any time reopen the procedure of licence withdrawal;

• “The reopening of the procedure can also occur in the case of new cases of doping or other serious infringements of the rules”.

On receiving this decision, the UCI President Brian Cookson declared: “First of all I would like to thank the Licence Commission for its professionalism during this procedure and the way that it has worked in total independence vis-à-vis all the parties concerned.

“The UCI recognises the constructive approach adopted by the Licence Commission. We are pleased to note that Astana Pro Team has committed to a process of in-depth reforms thanks to this procedure initiated before the Licence Commission. Taking into account that the team will be under the supervision of the ISSUL and monitored by the Licence Commission for the rest of the 2015 season, we are satisfied by this decision which we believe is proportionate.

“We are confident of the fact that the measures that the team has committed to put in place will help it improve its culture, its structures and its systems for governing anti-doping. We believe it is our responsibility to accompany each UCI WorldTeam towards increased professionalism and we firmly believe that the application of the ‘cahier des charges’ will contribute towards this. Finally, I would like to thank the ISSUL for its expertise and its collaboration both during this procedure and in the establishment of the ‘cahier des charges’.”