uci.logo5Under-fire cycling outfit Astana met with InternationalCycling Union (UCI) officials on Thursday to plead their case for a World Tour racing licence.

The UCI called for Astana’s licence to be revoked over concerns about the Kazakh team’s practises regarding doping.

Should Astana lose their licence, reigning Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali would lose the right to defend his title in July.

Last year five riders with either the professional World Tour squad or the Kazakh team’s Continental Tour affiliate failed doping tests.

The UCI intially gave Astana a World Tour licence in December on condition that the team cooperated with a study by Lausanne University’s Institute of Sport Sciences (ISSUL) on last year’s doping cases.

However, on reviewing the ISSUL report, the UCI called for the Licence Commission to withdraw Astana’s right to race.

“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) confirms that representatives of the UCI, the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne (ISSUL) and the Astana Pro Team have today (Thursday) appeared before the Licence Commission,” said a brief UCI statement on the matter. 

“As the proceeding is pending, the UCI will not be making any further comment on this matter.”

The World Tour Licence gives access to the main international races, including the Tour de France and big tours in Italy and Spain.

Astana have said they would appeal any move to take away their licence, meaning in reality that Nibali is likely to be free to defend his Tour title before any binding decision is taken. – Agence France-Presse

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