PARIS (Reuters) - The Astana cycling team were thrown out of the Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) after the Kazakh outfit failed to comply with the association's strict anti-doping rules at this year's Tour de France.
"After hearing Team Astana representative Dmitriy Fofonov’s arguments, the Board of directors of MPCC has decided to exclude Team Astana for non-compliance with article 9 of the regulations," the MPCC said in a statement on Friday.
Astana rider Lars Boom of the Netherlands started the Tour in July despite showing low levels of cortisol in a test on the eve of the race.
Low levels of the hormone can be explained by the use of corticoids, anti-inflammatory drugs that are allowed out of competition but forbidden while racing unless a rider is granted a Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE).
MPCC applies stricter rules than the International Cycling Union (UCI) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
Under MPCC rules Boom should have rested for eight days but UCI regulations, by contrast, did not forbid him from racing.
"Although cortisol hormones are an allowed medicine when prescribed by a physician, the use of that medicine has frequently been abused in the history of sports (including in cycling) for the purpose of increasing the performance," the MPCC added.
"Besides, a low level of cortisol can potentially endanger the health of athletes in certain circumstances."
Astana are the team of Italian Vincenzo Nibali, the 2014 Tour de France champion, and of current Vuelta leader Fabio Aru of Italy.
Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty