Astana forms new cycling league after being booted from Pro Tour

February 27, 2015 § 16 Comments

UCI President Brian Cookson announced today that team Astana would be asked to leave the Pro Tour due to irregularities in their application. “I told them they were drinking at the Last Chance Saloon,” said Cookson. “But they went ahead and ordered the drink with the pink umbrella. Oh, well.”

When asked about the procedure, Cookson’s assistant, Marc-Yves Surle Table explained: “We sent them a letter asking them to please not come to our races. It’s a very polite letter, firm but polite. Of course in the letter we vousvoyer.”

“If that doesn’t work,” said Cookson, “we get tough. We send a second letter, full-on tutoyer. We really ask them with incredible firmness, resolve, and indiscriminate use of the informal third person pronoun and its associated verb conjugations. They will see we mean business.”

Hans Castorp, the UCI’s third undersecretary for protocol and official correspondence, explained the next steps. “Sometimes even a letter filled with ‘tu’ doesn’t do the trick. So we start all over again, this time with sietzen followed by dutzen. They pretty much get the message then.”

Alexandre Vinokourov, doper-in-chief of Team Astana, was dismissive. “They can du or tu us all they want. We’re staying in the Last Chance Saloon and we’re gonna drink the fuggin’ place dry. Then we’ll beat up the barkeep, stuff potatoes down the toilet drains, and burn the fuggin’ joint to the ground.”

Vinokourov announced that he also has a “Plan B” in the event that an all-night drunkfest followed by arson at the Last Chance Saloon doesn’t pan out. According to the team’s publicist, Mohammed Emwazi, Team Astana has already formed a breakaway cycling league led by Johan Bruyneel with tanks, troops, armored personnel carriers, and artillery support from the Russian Federation. According to Emwazi, the new league will be based in the Donetsk People’s Republic, in Eastern Ukraine.

“We already have a full roster of teams,” Emwazi said. “The Donetsk Destroyers, the Luhansk Liberators, the Debaltseve Demons, the Mariupol Marauders, and the Crimea Killers.” When it was pointed out that Mariupol was still part of Ukraine, Emwazi said, “Not for long.”

The league’s first major event will be the Breaking Away Tour, which will pass through the most scenic and challenging areas of the fledgling separatist republic. “The Donetsk Airport, for example,” said Emwazi, “is a place rife with memories of sacrifice and heroism. We will probably do a crit around the rubble and then finish it off with a volley of long-range missiles towards Kiev.”

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You can’t say that, No. 1

December 3, 2014 § 38 Comments

Because it used to be, like, a mark of distinction.

“Young riders have gone mad. They do not understand that doping is no longer acceptable in cycling.” Alexandre Vinokourov, suspended pro doper and head of Team Astana, on why five of his riders have tested positive. Kazhakstanskaya Pravda, Nov. 28, 2014.

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Except for, you know, that we’re on the same team.

“They are four idiots that have nothing to do with me.” Vincenzo Nibali, explaining the distance between himself and riders who were with him at Tour of Oman, Milano-Sanremo, Amstel Gold Race, La Flèche Wallonne, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, and the Tour de Romandie. VeloNews, Nov. 21, 2014.

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Which is why we’re renewing the team’s license for 2015.

“The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) views the positive tests for EPO by two riders of the same team — Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy — as an extremely serious situation and one which raises questions about the management of the team and the ethics which are upheld within it.” UCI statement about the 5 recent positive doping tests on Team Astana. VeloNews, Oct. 8, 2014.

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No dessert, sure, or maybe a spanking.

“It’s not right to say that they should have missed Lombardy or Almaty.” Roger Legeay, head of pro cycling anti-doping movement, defending Team Astana’s cynical timing ploy that allowed them to race the final monument of the year despite multiple team doping offenses. Ten Ring News, Oct. 12, 2014.

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But the runner-up will be invited back to a special award ceremony and given a winner’s trophy with a really cool t-shirt.

“Davidenok and Astana literally stole close to $100,000 from the rest of the field, and there is no way we are going to get that money back; bull-shit.” Canadian pro Michael Woods, on Astana doper Ilya Davidenok’s win at the Tour of Qinghai Lake, scooping up $100k in prize money while riding the field off his wheel and making the rest of the field “his bitch.” CyclingTips.au, Nov. 28, 2014.

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Astana launches doping investigation, discovers doping

October 18, 2014 § 19 Comments

UCI Pro Tour team Astana launched an investigation into team doping practices after Maxim Iglinskiy tested positive for EPO during the fourth stage of the Tour of Belgium. Within forty-seven minutes of the announcement, Astana general manager Alexandre Vinokourov announced that “doping had been discovered” within the team.

“I’m very sorry to announce that doping has been discovered within Team Astana,” Vinokourov said at a press conference held at the world famous tourist resort and secret rendition destination known as Kyzylorda-sur-Waterboarding. “The dopers have confessed and been properly disposed of.”

Despite the most vigorous anti-doping program on the Pro Tour, a program that includes asking riders to report if they dope and that makes extensive use of self-graded questionnaires to root out potential drug problems, Astana has suffered a shocking number of doping positives, beginning with general manager Alexandre Vinokourov’s 2-year suspension for doping in the 2007 Tour de France.

“After getting caught for doping, I made sure that my team would have a very strict anti-doping policy,” said Vinokourov at the press conference. “People like me would no longer be welcome on the team, and after I retired it was my goal to make sure that no one like me would ever be associated with the team again.”

Vim Vandy Pants, cycling journalist and noted notary public, questioned Vinokourov regarding the team’s policy. According to Vandy Pants, “Shortly after Vino was busted, Matthias Kessler, another Astana rider, received a 2-year doping sanction. How do you explain this?” he asked at the press conference.

“Kessler was an aberration, an anomaly, a synonym for ‘one-off.’ None of his self-reported doping exams or questionnaires ever indicated drug use,” said Vinokourov.

Wham Wankypants, yet another famous cycling journalist and an even more widely noted notary public, followed up by asking Vinokourov about Eddy Mazzoleni, the former Astana rider who was banned for two years in the infamous Italian oil-for-drugs-and-old-jockstraps sting carried out by the Italian anti-doping agency, CONI-BALONEY. “You say zat no doping inna Astana, but you, Kessler, and Mazzoleni all was doping onna banana.”

“It’s true that Mazzoleni was a doper,” said Vinokourov. “But his program was very sophisticated, very clandestine, very secret. We asked him about it one night when he was very drunk, and he simply shrugged and said ‘I no doping.’ There was no way we could have known.”

Vinokourov was then asked about Andrey Kashechkin (banned for doping in the Tour of Turkey), former rider José Antonio Redondo (banned for testosterone), Vladimir Gusev (fired from team for sort-of-doping), Valentin Iglinskiy (banned for EPO), Maxim Iglinskiy (brother of Valentin, also banned for EPO), and llya Davidenok (busted for steroids and general stupidity).

Vinokourov was unapologetic. “These were isolated incidences, coincidences, outliers, random occurrences. We could never have known about such team-orchestrated doping despite our focus on self-reporting and questionnaires. However, now that we have launched a full investigation we have in fact uncovered doping. It is unacceptable and in the future we will insist that all riders on Astana refrain from doping or cheating in any way. Or else.”

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