• Riding on ... Astana's Dutch rider Lars Boom rides through the individual time trial in Utrecht during Stage 1 of the Tour de France (EPA)Source: EPA
Astana’s decision to defy anti-doping rules set by the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) has not challenged the credibility or future of the body, according to its president Roger Legeay.
Sophie Smith

5 Jul 2015 - 8:42 AM 

Report: Tour de France Stage 1
Dennis smashes a Tour record to claim the yellow jersey
Australia’s Rohan Dennis claimed the opening stage of the Tour de France in Utrecht, Netherlands, taking out the time trial in record time to become the first wearer of the yellow jersey in the 2015 race.

The team allowed Lars Boom to start the Tour de France on Saturday despite a low cortisol level that is in keeping with International Cycling Union (UCI) rules, but not those of the voluntary movement to which Astana is a member.

Twelve of the 22 WorldTour and Pro Continental teams competing at the Tour de France are members of the organisation that stipulates riders must be sidelined from competition for eight days if cortisol levels are under a certain level.

That means Astana, which brings defending Tour champion Vincenzo Nibali to the 102nd edition of the race, would have been down to eight riders, instead of a full nine-man squad, prior to the event starting.

The defiance comes after a decision from the Lotto NL Jumbo team to leave the MPCC after New Zealander George Bennett was forced to miss the Giro d’Italia in May because of cortisol levels. Had his team not been a member of the group he would have been allowed to start this grand tour.

“Yes, it will continue,” Legeay said. “We have lots of teams that want to stay.”

Astana has not indicated whether or not it wants to remain a member of the independent body. It attempted to replace Boom with another rider prior to the Tour start but was not allowed to under UCI regulations.

Speaking at the Tour de France on Saturday, MPCC’s delegated vice president and Giant-Alpecin general manager Iwan Spekenbrink said Astana would have to explain its “regrettable” case at a board meeting later this year if it wanted to safeguard its membership.

“There will be a procedure where they will explain this in front of the board and if the explanation is not sufficient then they will be excluded from MPCC,” Spekenbrink said.

“When you chose to commit to this you also chose the consequences. It’s regrettable they don’t follow these rules now.”

UCI President Brian Cookson said via a statement that he would prefer teams to operate under a single set of rules.

"I think the MPCC is a good organisation, it does good work and I commend them for setting a high standard. But it is sometimes confusing that some teams are operating under an additional set of rules,” Cookson said.

“I would rather have one single standard, harmonised under the new WADA code. We want to work closely with the MPCC, but at the end of the day we need to make sure that it is the UCI’s rules that govern the sport."