Legeay states no MPCC approach yet from Astana, but all applicant teams will be considered
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Friday, November 23, 2012

Legeay states no MPCC approach yet from Astana, but all applicant teams will be considered

by Shane Stokes at 6:59 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Frenchman confirms Optum/Kelly Benefit Strategies and Plussbank BMC wish to come on board

AstanaNews that the Astana team is considering joining the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible [Movement for a Credible Cycling/MPCC] took people by surprise yesterday, but the team’s general manager Giuseppe Martinelli insisted that the squad is genuine about efforts to work towards a cleaner sport.

MPCC president Roger Legeay has confirmed that the body will weigh up applications from any team which wishes to join, but states that thus far, there has been no contact from the Astana team.

“There is nothing in our regulations that one team is welcome while another is not,” he told Procycling.no. “If teams want to join us, they let us know about it. They have to tell us why they want to do it, what their philosophy is, perhaps explaining what happened in the past and how they see the future.

“Then it's up to the eleven current members to decide whether they are accepted in the movement. I have not heard anything formally from Astana yet, but we want as many people as possible to join our movement and act in accordance with our strict rules.”

The reason why some are sceptical is because of some elements of Astana’s past. It was formed in the wake of Operacion Puerto, being built around Alexandre Vinokourov after his Liberty Seguros – Wurth team crumbled apart due to the Spanish doping investigation.

While Vinokourov’s team was not able to compete in that year’s Tour, he dominated the Vuelta a España with team-mate Andrey Kashechkin third. The following year, Vinokourov admitted immediately prior to the Tour de France that he was working with the controversial doctor Michele Ferrari; although a crash affected his GC chances, he won the Albi time trial and a mountain stage to Loudenvielle.

However he was ejected from the race after a doping test revealed he had received a blood transfusion; Kasechkin was later tested out of competition and penalised for the same offence.

The team was again under a cloud in 2009 when banned infusion equipment was seized from the riders’ vacated rooms at the Tour de France. At the time Lance Armstrong, Alberto Contador and others were on the squad. Charges were ultimately never brought, but the incident did little to improve the team’s name.

Martinelli, who came on board the following year, insists that things are different now and that he has seen no sign of Ferrari. “We are a team that has changed a lot since two years ago. We are seeing the results of that now,” he told Eurosport. “Until now, for that specific reason we have not had any more problems. But it’s too early to talk - as I said, we need to work more and talk less.”

He told Procycling.no that the team monitors the riders closely. “We have an internal system that monitors all riders every day. We perform internal controls. We are the team that has changed us a lot during the last two years, and we reap the fruits of now.”

If it applies and is then accepted, Astana would be subject to the same anti-doping rules as the other member teams. These reguations are:

- To no longer allow a rider race when he has an initial positive test.
- Not to sign up a rider who has a suspension of more than six months [with the exception of whereabouts cases] for a period of two years after the suspension.
- Don’t give corticoid injections without imposing a break from competition of eight days.
- Carry out internal procedures from the first positive case on a team.
- The team should suspend itself automatically following several positive cases in a twelve month period.


Legeay’s statement that the team will need to explain its philosophies and speak about the past is something which will be very important for the MPCC; if any of its member teams is found not to be playing by the rules, the effect would be damaging to the organisation’s credibility.

Vinokourov retired this year and now has a senior management role on the team. He was the subject of race-fixing allegations relating to the 2010 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and this is something that Martinelli said he would address.

“He will explain everything that he has done and what he hasn’t done,” he stated. “He is an intelligent and serious guy, so he will know how to take responsibility.

Meanwhile Legeay today announced that two teams other had applied to join the MPCC, namely the American Pro Continental team Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies and the Norwegian Plussbank team. The latter is a Continental squad owned by Thor Hushovd, a BMC Racing Team leader who previously competed with Legeay’s former Crédit Agricole squad.

They join three other applicants, namely Bardiani CSF Inox (Italy), and the French BigMat Auber 93 and La Pomme Marseille teams.

Their acceptance to the MPCC will be voted up at the next scheduled meeting. Providing it does indeed apply, Astana’s application will also be considered then.



Also see: Optum Pro Cycling/Kelly Benefit Strategies' Jesse Anthony speaks about the need for clean riders to push for a better sport

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