Milan - Reigning Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali insisted he will not
quit the embattled cycling team Astana following the doping positives
of two team-mates and three from the suspended Astana Continental outfit.
"I'm not leaving, even though I would have every right to," Nibali told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Friday.
Astana's future in the professional cycling ranks is hanging in the
balance after the International Cycling Union (UCI) asked its Licence
Commission last month to "undertake a full review of the management and
anti-doping policies of the Astana Pro Team".
Two riders from Astana's top tier team, brothers Maxim and Valentin
Iglinskiy, have recently tested positive for banned substances.
Three riders from the Astana Continental (second division) team - a
separate team run by the Kazakh Cycling Federation (KCF) - have also
tested positive this year.
Artur Fedosseyev added his name last week to a doping blacklist
already featuring Victor Okishev and Ilya Davidenok and on Friday the
KCF officially announced the team's suspension from competition pending a
All five cases, however, have cast a shadow over the Astana Pro Team
run by former Tour de France podium finisher Alexandre Vinokourov, whose
career was blighted by doping suspicion and a ban for blood doping in
Despite the potential for his achievements to be overshadowed by
recent events, Nibali - the first Italian to win the fabled Tour de
France yellow jersey since deceased compatriot Marco Pantani in 1998 -
said he was not about to walk out on Astana.
"I'm sure I've made the right choice. I'm sure the team is going to
be given its racing licence, but if some absurd reason that doesn't
happen, I'm not leaving, even though I would have every right to," added
"It's not just me who is tied up with this team. I have my inner
circle of people. There's a group of about six or seven of us. Where do I
"Astana has invested in us and we feel good here. I believe in them and they believe in me."
Nibali, the 2013 Giro d'Italia champion who also won the 2010 Tour of
Spain, called the recent cheats from Astana's Continental outfit
"Let's be clear. Astana and Astana 2 (Continental) are two different
things. We've had two (positive) cases with the Iglinskiy brothers, but
that was a family affair," he said.
"The other three (riders) - I don't even know what they look like -
are idiots. I don't know what they have been up to... maybe they were
motivated by the idea of getting a contract here (with Astana) and
earning a good wage.
"But that's their business. The team has already taken action. The
Continental set-up has been suspended and (Dmitri) Sedoun has been
Sedoun was a 'directeur sportif' or coach with both Astana and the Continental team but was sacked by the KCF on Friday.