The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) earlier today announced it has completed its examination and review of the audit report produced by the Swiss Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL) on Astana Pro Team and its anti-doping culture, policies, structures and management systems. According to UCI, the audit was one of the conditions that were part of the organization's prior decision to include the Astana team in the 2015 UCI WorldTour.
"After careful review of this extensive report, the UCI strongly believes that it contains compelling grounds to refer the matter to the Licence Commission and request the Astana Pro Team licence be withdrawn," the UCI said in a statement released today.
The UCI Licence Commission will be responsible for the task of deciding if the Kazakh Astana team should be excluded from the 2015 World Tour or be allowed to remain part of the World Tour competition.
Astana's 2015 roster includes defending Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali of Italy, Spain's Luis Leon Sanchez, Italy's Michele Scarponi, and Jakob Fuglsang of Denmark. If the UCI Licence Commission decides to exclude Astana from the WorldTour, these riders will not participate in the 28 most famous and important races of the season. These races include the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France, the Vuelta a Espana, Milano-San Remo, Tour of Flanders, Paris-Roubaix, and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
"The UCI considers that the ISSUL audit has, among other things, revealed a big difference between the policies and structures that the team presented to the Licence Commission in December and the reality on the ground," the UCI statement continued.
"In addition, the Italian authorities have provided the UCI with the sections of the Padova investigation which it has been authorized to share. As some evidence concerns Astana Pro Team members, the file has been passed to the Licence Commission as part of this referral."
In recent months Astana riders such as Nibali and Fuglsang have been publicly criticized for remaining part of a Kazakhstan-registered team, which is riding in support of a nation that is officially supporting Russia and its actions in Ukraine.
The UCI will not make further comments on the Padova investigation or the audit report until the Licence Commission has made a decision in the above matter.