The UCI, cycling’s governing body, announced Thursday that Astana will receive a license to race in 2015, according to a CyclingNews report.
The team, home to current Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, was left off the initial list of 2015 WorldTour teams after riders on both Astana’s development and top-tier squads tested positive for doping. Bad news continued this week with allegations that infamous pro-cycling doping doctor Michele Ferrari, who has been banned from the sport for life, was present at Astana’s training camp in fall 2013. The team’s leader, former Olympic road race champion Alexander Vinokourov, served a suspension for doping in 2007.
Cycling pundits had speculated that the UCI would relegate the team to Pro Continental status, where it would not receive automatic entry to the year’s major races, including the Tour de France. Some observers have called for the UCI to outright reject Astana’s application.
A condition of the license was an overhaul of the team’s anti-doping measures and an audit from the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne. UCI chief Brian Coxson warned that another doping positive from Astana would likely lead to the suspension of the team’s license. “The Astana Pro Team can be considered very much to be on probation,” CyclingNews quoted Coxson as saying.