If the MPCC wants to retain any relevance to the anti-doping movement going forward, it needs to eject Astana from its membership immediately, writes Al Hinds.
7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

Last Thursday, my Cycling Central colleague Philip Gomes opined in an article, 'Time for Vino to man up' that "Astana needs to be punted from racing for the rest of the season and Vino probably needs to be suspended from being anywhere near a bicycle race for at least a year."

He was responding to a bind Astana had found itself in after the second EPO positive this year recorded within the team, this time, a high-profile scalp in the way of former Liege-Bastogne-Liege champion, Maxim Iglinskiy.

For those that haven't been following this whole sorry saga; the long and the short of it is this. Because Astana are a signed and paid member of the Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC), and because Iglinskiy is the team's second positive, the team is obliged under MPCC rules to suspend itself from all racing for an eight day period.

All fairly simple, non?

The problem for Astana was this. It had two big races, one, the final monument of the year, the Giro di Lombardia, which it had a real shot of winning through Fabio Aru, and the other, its home race, the Tour of Almaty.

Of course, in a time when public relations and spin are everything, Astana didn't want to look like complete rogues by spurning the will of the MPCC and treating the seriousness of the two team positives with derision. It did however want to compete in both races.

So it did something quite clever.

It asked for Iglinskiy's B-sample to be opened, deferring the need for a decision for just long enough for the team to compete in both races. It even won in Almaty with Alexey Lutsenko.

Overnight, it then retracted the request to have the B-sample opened, with Iglinskiy confirming his guilt.

Astana, as bastions of an ethical sport then suspended itself from racing the week starting 10 October, ruling itself out of a race I imagine it didn't even want to attend, the Tour of Beijing.

I don't know who they're fooling but as piss-takes go, that effort from Astana is right up there. I'm speculating here, but I imagine that they knew Iglinskiy's B-sample was going to come up positive too, but simply wanted to do things on their own terms.

It's not Astana that have been embarrassed however by this whole saga, it's the MPCC.

The MPCC's pants are firmly down around the ankles, and at present, it seems to be okay with that. Guys, everyone is laughing. Pull up your pants, and get a hold of yourselves.

Strong, decisive action from the MPCC can still save face. If it wants to move away from its window-dressing reputation it can have no choice but to rescind Astana's membership from the organisation with immediate effect. Because going along with Astana's charade doesn't just embarrass the organisation, but the association of the teams involved with it.

If it can't recognise this then I fail to the understand the organisation's ongoing relevance.