12.11.2014

What does it take to NOT get a WT licence? UCI decision on Astana, riders reactions and my opinion

UCI PRESS RELEASE

The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) today announced that the Licence Commission (1) has released its decisions with regards to the teams Astana Pro Team, Team Europcar and Yellow Fluo.

Concerning Astana Pro Team, last October, the UCI asked the Licence Commission to undertake a full review of the management and anti-doping policies of the Astana Pro Team. This request followed positive tests on two of its riders, Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy (EPO), and on Ilya Davidenok (anabolic steroids), a trainee with the UCI ProTeam Astana since August 1st this year.

In accordance with the UCI Regulations, the team appeared before the Licence Commission in Geneva on November 6th. After an in-depth examination of the situation, the Licence Commission reached the following findings:

“The organisation of the fight against doping and the support personnel of the riders in place until now by the team has defaulted”;
[The team] has initiated a reorganisation of all the support personnel of its riders in order to strengthen its fight against doping within the team to ensure greater prevention and repression”;
“In view of the heavy and repeated doping cases, which occurred within the Team, it is therefore essential to monitor the implementation of such measures on the ground”.
In light of the above, the Licence Commission has subordinated the 2015 registration team to the two following conditions:

That the Astana Pro Team is audited by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL) (2), an independent body recognised for its expertise in this field. The ISSUL will look into the circumstances of the doping cases at stake to determine whether and to what extent the team and or/its management is responsible of the recent events. Furthermore, it will assess the team’s internal structures, culture and management systems to understand whether these are adequate to ensure that the highest ethical standards are upheld. It will release its report early February 2015. The audit will be paid for by the Team.
That the Astana Pro Team adheres from 2015 to the internal operational requirements (3), which will be compulsory for all UCI World Teams from 2017 as part of the reform of men’s professional road cycling. Astana Pro Team will join a group of eight teams that have volunteered to implement.
The Licence Commission however warned 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 Licence Commission also noted with respect to the recent allegations regarding the Padova investigation that as UCI is still waiting for the file: “For the time being, the elements of this procedure are unknown to the UCI and the Licence Commission and no consequence can be drawn in this case at hand. The UCI would call upon the Commission if evidence against the Team is established.”

Therefore, the occurrence of any the aforementioned grounds, amongst others, would prompt a referral to the Licence Commission to envisage, if necessary, the withdrawal of the licence.

Concerning Europcar, the Licence Commission has decided to reject the team’s request for registration for the 2015 season. The Licence Commission estimates that the team does not fulfil the financial criteria. The UCI will be able to evaluate the possibility of registering the team as a UCI Professional Continental Team. In accordance with the UCI Regulations, the registration refusal leads to the withdrawal of the UCI WorldTour Licence.

With regards to Yellow Fluo, the Licence Commission has decided to register the team as a UCI Professional Continental Team for the 2015 season upon the condition that team undergoes stringent controls by the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation and the UCI to verify the team’s implementation of its announced anti-doping measures.

Concerning Cult Energy, the Licence Commission has granted the team until December 15th to submit a new registration file.

Welcoming the decisions, UCI President Brian Cookson said “I would like to thank the Licence Commission, who has carried out its work thoroughly, professionally and independently of the UCI.

“In the case of the Astana Pro Team, this remains a very serious situation for our sport given the number of doping cases. We shall be following the situation very closely and are awaiting to review the results of the audit. Meanwhile, the team will have to comply with the two requirements imposed by the Licence Commission. The combined effect of this is that the Astana Pro Team can be considered very much to be on probation.

“Regarding Team Europcar, it is of course regrettable that the team has not been able to secure sufficient financial guarantees to remain in the UCI WorldTour, but I very much hope that they can continue as a Professional Continental Team.

“In the case of Yellow Fluo, it is vital that they comply with the conditions outlined. Concerning Cult Energy, I hope that they are able to make the deadline for the provision of a new file, as requested by the Commission.”

Note to editors
The excerpts of the Licence Commission are free translations from the French, only language in which the decisions have been communicated.

(1) The Licence Commission is the competent body for issuing, reviewing, withdrawing and attaching conditions to UCI WorldTour licences and ensuring that licence-holders continuously comply with the terms of the licence. It is made up of 4 professionals who work independently of the UCI and its President is Mr Pierre Zappelli, a former Swiss Court Supreme Judge.

(2) The Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL), attached to the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences is a centre of excellence in training and research. The ISSUL produces numerous works, published in journals and publishers of reference, dealing with different aspects of sport practice (sociology, physiology, biomechanics etc). The institute often carries out assignments on behalf of national and international organisations.

(3) The professional teams’ internal operational requirements (the “cahier des charges”) will comprise 10 rules relating to the organisation of the teams, their methods of preparation as well as their riders’ workload in order to ensure that all riders are properly supported and supervised. After an experimental phase in 2015 and 2016, all professional teams will be obliged to respect the terms of reference from the 2017 season onwards. An auditing body will ensure the terms of reference are adhered to, and in the experimental phase these controls will be carried out by the ISSUL. The ISSUL will award a label that will be used by the UCI during the registration of teams in 2017.


My opinion
1. Things I don't like: first of all the DELAY. The UCI should have simply said: we need more time. Keeping people waiting and tweetting random is never a good idea. It's a signal of weakness that the UCI shouldn't give. In second place I don't like the fact that a team with three doping cases - at least - goes away with a World Tour Licence while a team with financial troubles has to step down to Continental. The message is wrong, face it. 
2. Things I like: Yellow Fluo strictly watched but allowed to race as a Continental team. As I said, Scinto is still there but Fantini - largely responsable for the last doping cases - went wasting another team - Nippo. I still wonder why Nippo got a Continental license. Anyway there are good riders at Yellow Fluo who had nothing to do with Di Luca and co. and who have been already damaged by those idiots, so ok, lets keep an eye on it but don't be too harsh.
I also like the fact that the UCI didn't act on rumors but waited for the CONI file about Padova investigation. That's right and smart. We want the UCI being firm against doping but also effective, so it must act on a legal base to avoid a disastrous CAS defeat (remember Katusha last year). 
Finally I'm glad to know that Jonathan Vaughters shares my view: "At this point, if I'm UCI license commission, I drop Astana to Pro-Conti. This would very likely get overturned in CAS, but you gotta try." he said. 

Vincenzo Nibali said he's as calm as always and nothing changed:

"Today is a day just like yesterday for me because we’re here to train. We have the new season just around the corner. I’m concentrated on sport (cfr. Biciciclismo) There are only two cases on the WorldTour team. It’s not fair to conclude that the Astana Continental team is part of the WorldTour one. They are two different, separate teams. It’s not the same team, they’re two completely different teams, with a different structure, a different president, a different manager…
The problems in this team are also in many others. I don’t think our team is the worst because in other teams there are worse people than there are here, I won’t name names.
There’s Mafia in Sicily, as in the rest of the world, but that doesn’t mean we’re all gangsters. As cyclists we’re always trying to show transparency. I’ve always practiced clean cycling and I will continue to do so.
I have never worked with Ferrari, absolutely not, because we all know what happens if you work with him or even meet him. These are certainly unfounded rumours. 
This way [more controls etc] we can do something to make it a cleaner sport and give meaning to cycling.
I’m tranquillo. I’ve coped with this pressure before, at the Giro, the Tour and the Vuelta. I work with serenity, it’s part of my philosophy, my sport and it’s part of my lifestyle. I also don’t want to disappoint anybody, especially my family.”
Quite different Peter Kennaugh's reaction on twitter last night:
"What a joke this sport can be! The clean riders of the peleton need to get together and push these cheats out enough is enough."
...and honestly I agree.

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