Astana to resume racing at Plouay

Swiss/Kazakh team back after break

Embattled cycling team Astana, who have been hit by a series of high-profile doping cases in recent months, said Monday they will resume racing in September at the Plouay Grand Prix in France.

Swiss-registered Astana sacked their team leader Alexandre Vinokourov after he tested positive for blood doping at the Tour de France in July. And only last week his Kazakh compatriot Andriy Kashechkin also tested positive for blood doping following a random test while he was training in Turkey.

Astana's troubles meant they have been left uninvited to a number of top races, including the three-week Tour of Spain, which begins at the end of August and where Vinokourov was the defending champion. A team statement said Monday that Astana would now be looking to getting back to racing, having worked on strict anti-doping measures with the Swiss Olympic movement.

"As of next September competitions will resume for the Astana Cycling Team. On Sunday September 2, a team will be at the start of the Grand Prix of Plouay, a UCI Pro Tour race.

"While it is still too early to give the list of the riders racing, it goes without saying that all of the them are hungry to get back to competition after a month of suspension."

It added: "In parallel, the Astana Cycling Team's management continues its concrete steps with the Swiss Olympic movement in order to quickly establish a system of independent and external anti-doping controls for the team."

Earlier this season German Matthias Kessler was suspended by the team after testing positive for excess levels of testosterone and Italy's Eddy Mazzoleni was dropped from their Tour de France team because of doping allegations.

© AFP 2007

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