• Alexander Kristoff will be a key player in the Spring classics (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Tour of Flanders champion Alexander Kristoff has acknowledged his preparation for the spring classics could be affected if the UCI decides to suspend his Katusha team for doping violations.
Sophie Smith

Cycling Central
8 Feb 2016 - 11:37 AM  UPDATED 8 Feb 2016 - 12:40 PM

Kristoff is set to commence his 2016 season campaign at the Tour of Qatar tomorrow, however, speaking to journalists on the eve of the race in Doha admitted there was a possibility he may not.

Katusha has recorded two positive tests for banned substances within 12 months, which is in violation of UCI rules and could see the team banned from competition for 15-45 days. The UCI has reportedly referred the matter to its Disciplinary Commission, which is set to issue a ruling in the coming days.

“I am prepared to start and I hope I don’t need to wait for 15 or more days,” Kristoff said. “I thought they would give us some idea tomorrow, or the day after, so if they don’t say anything tomorrow for sure we are on the start (line).

“Qatar is especially important for my build-up to the classics to get good race speed here. It’s normally quite hard racing with many other classics riders, and you see often the guys doing well in Qatar are also doing well in the classics. It’s important for me to do this race and I hope we can do it.”

The disciplinary review comes after the UCI on Friday reported that Russian Eduard Vorganov had returned an adverse analytical finding for Meldonium.

Meldonium is a hormone and metabolic modulator produced in Latvia and used to treat angina and heart attacks among other things. It was added to WADA’s prohibited list on January 1 and Vorganov returned a positive sample for an out-of-competition test taken January 14.

The announcement came six months after veteran Luca Paolini tested positive for cocaine at the Tour de France.

“With Luca, I think it was a little bit lifestyle problem he had and now this so we will see what their (UCI’s) reaction will be,” Kristoff said.

“I actually never heard of it (Meldonium) before but have now. It seems like it can be in some things they use in Russia and Latvia I heard. I’ve never seen this in Norway but for sure it’s on the list and it’s not legal to take it. I don’t know if he knew it or not, if he was taking it because I think the substance was illegal from the 1st of January but any way. He was positive on it and we have two positives in one year so now it’s up to UCI I think to give us a penalty or not. We are looking forward to tomorrow and see if we can start or not.”

Katusha fought the UCI, then under former president Pat McQuaid, to save its top-tier licence for 2013 and did through an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. If the outfit is temporarily suspended this month it has an option to request the UCI lift the suspension, referencing certain criteria.

Kristoff is a regular at the Tour of Qatar and has commenced his season here the past four consecutive years.

The 28-year-old Norwegian is also a contender for the October UCI Road World Championships in Doha and will have an opportunity to look at some of the course during stage two of the race, which incorporates parts of it, on Tuesday.

“In training I felt okay and the data looks normal, like last year more or less,” Kristoff said of his shape. “I think I should be good but you never know how the others are so we will see.”