9th February 2016

UCI decides against suspending Katusha

The Union Cycliste International (UCI) decided against suspending the Katusha team for two adverse analytical findings (AAFs) in a 12-month period, after its Disciplinary Commission argued that to impose a ban when one of the AAFs related to social drugs would go against the spirit of its rules. Interestingly, the UCI decided to refer the case to the Disciplinary Commission on 6 February, despite the earlier AAF relating to the social drug (cocaine) dating back to 10 July last year.

‘It is understood that the intention of the Article [7.12.1 of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules] is to impose negative consequences on teams that lack control of doping for sporting purposes by their athletes, or if even worse scenarios exist, and/or if teams are not doing enough to fight such doping’, read a UCI statement. ‘The President of the Commission has expressed that he could share the view that it would be disproportionate to suspend a team on the basis that one of its members [uses] a social drug, the consumption of which is not related to sporting performance’.

The UCI referred Katusha’s case to its Disciplinary Commission after Russian rider Eduard Vorganov returned an AAF for meldonium following an out-of-competition test on 14 January. As reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative, meldonium was approved for addition to the 2016 Prohibited List, which came into force on 1 January 2016, after being approved by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in September last year. ‘Team Katusha confirms that this substance has never been used by the Team in any form and was not provided to the rider by the team’, read a Katusha statement. Vorganov has been provisionally suspended by the UCI and by Team Katusha.

Katusha’s Italian rider Luca Paolini tested positive for benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine, during a 7 July in-competition test at the Tour de France last year. He initially said that he never took the substance, and vowed to clear his name, however later admitted a struggle with a sleeping pill addiction had led him towards taking cocaine.

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