Astana, the cycling team of Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali, could have its license to compete this year revoked following an International Cycling Union (UCI) request after a doping investigation of the team.
The UCI said Friday it “strongly believes” it has “compelling grounds” to request Astana’s license be withdrawn by a licensing commission. The announcement came after the UCI reviewed a report regarding Astana’s “anti-doping culture, policies, structures and management systems.”
The UCI said the report revealed a “big difference between the policies and structures that the team presented to the license commission in December and the reality on the ground.”
Five Astana senior and development squad riders were caught doping with EPO and steroids since August, according to The Associated Press.
The Italian Nibali was not one of them, but he may not be able to defend his Tour title as an Astana rider in July if the team’s license is revoked. He could join another cycling team.
Astana’s team manager is Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov, who was suspended two years for blood doping in 2007 and came back to win the 2012 Olympic road race before retiring.