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Katusha team risks suspension after second positive case in less than a year

Photo_ Sirotti

ALEXANDER KRISTOFF

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TOUR OF QATAR

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08.02.2016 @ 09:19 Posted by Jesper Ralbjerg

The Vorganov case is Katusha’s second anti-doping violation in less than 12 months, following Luca Paolini’s positive test for cocaine at the Tour de France, and under the UCI’s revised rules, the entire team could face a suspension of between 15 and 45 days.

“Immediately when I saw the news, for sure, I thought I might be coming on a day trip down here,” Kristoff told reporters in Doha on the eve of the Tour of Qatar according to Cyclingnews.com.

 

“The UCI said they would be really strict with the new rules on anti-doping. These are two special cases; especially with Luca, it was a lifestyle problem he had, and now this. We will see what the reaction will be.”

 

On Friday evening, the UCI issued a statement saying that its Disciplinary Commission would publish its verdict on Katusha’s status “in the coming days". As of Monday morning, though, the UCI had published nothing but complete silence on the matter, and, for now at least, Kristoff will begin his season as planned at the Tour of Qatar later today.

 

“I thought they would give us some idea tomorrow or the day after but if they don’t say anything tomorrow [Monday], then for sure we will start,” Kristoff said. “I am prepared to start and I hope I don’t need to wait another 15 or more days to start my season. We were of course a bit surprised and shocked with the positive test. I’d actually never heard of it [meldonium] before, but it seems like it can be in some substances they use in Russia or Latvia. I’ve never seen this in Norway. But for sure it’s on the list and it’s not legal to take it. I don’t know if he knew it or not, because it was newly illegal since January 1. But anyway, he was positive for it, and that means we’ve had two positives in one year, so now it’s up to the UCI to give us a penalty or not.”

 

Kristoff lines up as the favourite for overall victory in the absence of the Etixx-QuickStep team, which has produced the winner in eight of the past 10 editions. Unless the UCI suddenly comes out with a ban on Katusha’s participation later today, that is.

Kristoff won three stage victories in last year’s edition of the Tour of Qatar, but lost the leader’s gold jersey to eventual overall winner Nikki Terpstra in the short individual time trial on stage 3 to finish in third place overall.

 

“We will start with the overall as an objective but we’ll see day by day. We’ll try not to lose time and try to win stages,” Kristoff said. “Last year I was close because I had a lot of bonus seconds from winning three stages. I lost it in the time trial but I didn’t lose too much there, so hopefully I can do more or less the same again.”

 

The Norwegian’s main objective at the Tour of Qatar, however, is to lay the foundations for his Spring Classics campaign.

“You get good race speed here and it’s normally quite hard racing with many other Classics riders,” he said. “You see often the guys doing well in Qatar go on to do well in the Classics.”

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