The continental feeder squad of WorldTour team Astana, for whom Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali rides, has been provisionally suspended in the wake of the announcement that a third rider from its ranks had failed anti-doping controls.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed yesterday that Kazakhstani cyclist Artur Fedosseyev had been provisionally suspended for using anabolic steroids during the Tour de l'Ain in August.
The 20-year-old's positive test is the fifth doping case in all for Kazakhstani cyclists in the past three months, all coming from Astana's WorldTour and continental team.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Kairat Kelimbetov, President of the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation, has resigned and has been replaced by Darkan Mangeldiev, a close friend of Alexander Vinokourov, who is the general manager of Astana.
The Astana WorldTour team is currently holding a training camp in Tuscany and Vinokourov has moved to distance them from the continental squad.
"The young riders are crazy if they still haven't understood that there is no place for doping in cycling," Vinokourov told Gazzetta dello Sport.
"I want this to be a signal, a blast in their ear of our Federation.
"As we've often requested, the Kazakh Federation has to do more controls and be more severe.
"They've got our full support."
"People have to understand that they [the continental team] has nothing to do with this team [the Astana WorldTour team].
"The only thing we have in common is the jersey and the name."
In October, the UCI asked its Licence Commission to review Astana's status after brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy, as well as trainee Ilya Davidenok, all failed doping tests.
Last week it was announced Victor Okishev, like Fedosseyev, a 20-year-old who rides for Astana's continental team, had tested positive for anabolic steroids while competing at the Asian Cycling Championships in May.
Despite the five doping cases, Vinokourov insists the Astana team will secure a UCI WorldTour licence for the 2015 season.
Vinokourov pleaded his case with the UCI Licence Commission earlier this month and the world governing body is expected to announce the 18 WorldTour teams in early December
"There is no problem for the licence," said Vinokourov.
"We've given all the explanations that were asked for."
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October 2014: UCI to investigate team of Tour de France winner after third rider tests positive for banned substance
September 2014: UCI to set up independent anti-doping tribunal in 2015 to take decision-making away from countries
September 2014: Cycling is now leading sport in anti-doping, says UCI President Cookson
July 2014: Nibali wins Tour de France as Kittel sprints to final stage win
March 2014: Independent audit recommends "urgent" improvements to UCI anti-doping practices