"Just opened door 8 on the Astana Advent Calendar, that was a shocker :o :D "
...or maybe not. For sure it is a DRAG. A real drag. Because now everybody is talking again ONLY about doping and when you say 'cycling' everybody reply 'doping' and there is few to add, nobody listen.
I don't like writing about doping and if you need info about the last 'scandal' - Dr Ferrari at Astana's training camp in 2013 and in general linked to the team, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport - I suggest you to check and follow http://cyclingtips.com.au/ and the always good, militant and well informed - no irony intended - Shane Stokes.
What I want to say here is that I'm still persuaded that after 2008 things changed in procycling, in facts and in the new generation of riders' mind. I don't mean that procycling is completely clean since that. I mean that doping is no more popular in the peloton, no more considere as normal. Because it was, previously. And I mean that now dopers get caught. As a consequence big names stay away from doping. Yes, I'm persuaded that Nibali, Froome etc are clean.
I can't be sure of course but I think it's like that. I also think that big teams with big commercial sponsors - unlike Astana whose main sponsor is a State - prefer to get average results than to be linked to doping.
Things are different for small teams and in countries with a long tradition of doping, like Italy, Spain, Russia (not only in cycling). They are no more the avanguard in procycling. Here a subculture of mafia, respected old families, still proficuous bussiness and desperate riders keeps feeding the doping as a mass phenomenon. In the Granfondo doping is the rule in Italy, I'm sorry to sound brutal but who knows that 'world' could hardly disagree. Something similar it's true for the lower cathegories, where controls are very few. And considering how difficult is in Italy to emerge for a good clean rider... you can imagine the rest.
I have a big respect for Italian clean riders, people I know as clean and who worked hard to get a contract with a continental team to show something in good races and finally managed to make it to the World Tour. I don't like at all to see them put in the same big pot with dopers: "They are all the same! all cheaters! it's impossible to ride a big tour being clean!" No, I don't agree.
About Team Astana, you know my opinion: it shouldn't get a WT licence, that would be immoral. It should get a Continental licence and Nibali should be allowed to defend his Tour de France title with a wild card. Then I'd like to see him AWAY from such a team, with his group of good clean riders. They don't deserve to be confused with dopers.
As far as the Ferrari's story: some years ago, during the Tour, Francesco Moser was commentating as a special guest on RAI and he said Mr. Ferrari ("Il Signor Ferrari" meaning a respectable man) was his friend and that he knows him very well like everybody in cycling because he's the best in his field. Indead Ferrari is often invited to parties and dinners with teams and cyclists. I don't know if he went to visit old friends by Astana at that training camp, it could be.
What I know is that Paolo Slongo is a serious, honest, clean man. I can't imagine him working with Ferrari or even allowing him to work with his athletes.
Maybe I'm wrong. In that case I'll be very very very sorry.