Sochi - An International Cycling Union (UCI) commission is expected to rule this week on whether the doping tainted Astana team should be stripped of its licence, UCI president Brian Cookson has said on Monday.
If Astana loses, star rider Vincenzo Nibali could forfeit the right to defend his Tour de France title.
hope for a decision ideally this week. I don't have a final date, but
the sooner the better," Cookson told AFP on the sidelines of the
SportAccord convention in Sochi, Russia.
The UCI president,
elected to the post in September 2013, said he did not expect the
licence commission would have another meeting on whether Astana's World
Tour racing licence should be revoked.
Astana could appeal to the
Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but legal officials have said
Astana would not automatically have the right to carry on racing while
the tribunal comes to a decision.
Astana's place in the peloton
has been under threat since five riders with either the professional
World Tour squad or the Kazakh team's Continental Tour affiliate failed
doping tests last year.
Cookson said that whatever the decision,
the UCI had sent "a really strong, powerful signal, not just to Astana,
but to other teams as well, that this has to stop, we cannot have
multiple doping cases from one team in a year".
monitoring rules and team sanctions introduced by the World Anti-Doping
Agency (WADA) have now been added to UCI regulations for this year.
If multiple doping cases "happened this year that would be very, very serious for Astana or any other team", Cookson added.
have to take their responsibilities very, very seriously in terms of
how they monitor riders, how they support riders and coach riders.
"Doctors as well have to be very very careful about the processes that they have been involved in," said Cookson.
who are allegedly floating around on the sidelines, the people who have
been banned, there are rumours that they are still acting as
intermediaries, it is a warning to them as well," added the 63-year-old
Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen, who was
criticised for being too lenient in a report on the federation's
handling of the Lance Armstrong case, hit back at Cookson in a letter
published by Dutch media on Monday.
Verbruggen said Cookson
deliberately avoided meeting him at events and that the independent
commission's report contained "incorrect accusations" based on
unidentified people rather than documented evidence.
"I think it is very sad that he sees it this way," responded Cookson. "The report is not all about him.
reaction just demonstrates yet again how the UCI used to get things
wrong in the way that it deliberated and the way that it managed the
sport. I am not going to get into that sort of personal dispute."
report, published in March, highlighted the close links between UCI
leaders, especially Verbruggen who was president from 1991 until 2005,
and Armstrong who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles for