Cycling’s ruling body suspended disciplinary proceedings against the Astana team that Vincenzo Nibali rides for, allowing the Tour de France champion to defend his title in July.
The Union Cycliste Internationale didn’t immediately give a reason for the decision. On Feb. 27, the UCI said an investigation of its anti-doping procedure showed “compelling evidence” the team should lose its license.
The Astana team has been bankrolled by Kazakhstan since 2006, and is named for the country’s capital. There is no evidence that Italy’s Nibali, the squad’s first Tour winner, used banned substances during his career.
UCI said the Institute of Sport Sciences at the University of Lausanne came up with several requirements for the team, which pledged to put them in place this season. UCI’s licensing panel can re-open its hearing “if Astana Pro Team fails to respect one or several of the conditions imposed, or if new elements arise,” it said in a statement on its website.
Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy, brothers from Kazakhstan, tested positive for stamina-boosting drug erythropoietin, or EPO, last year. Three riders on Astana’s second-tier team have also had positive drug tests.
Astana general manager Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping at the 2007 Tour de France. Alberto Contador failed a drug test in winning the 2010 Tour with the team and was stripped of the title.
Kazakh Cycling Federation President Darkhan Kaletaev said in a March 30 statement that past failures by the team meant that it is “perhaps considered guilty until proven innocent.” Team officials had said it would appeal any suspension of its licence to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.