Kazakh cyclist Andrei Kashechkin became the latest rider to fail a dope test after it weas revealed he tested positive for blood doping while training in Turkey earlier this month.
Kashechkin was a team-mate of Kazakh rider Alexandre Vinokourov, who failed a similar test during the Tour de France and was thrown out of the race and subsequently sacked by his Astana team.
Kashechkin has been suspended by Astana - who pulled out of the Tour de France following Vinokourov's dope test and have decided not to compete in any races until the end of August - until the result of his B test is known. Vinokourov's sample during the Tour de France revealed the presence of "two distinct blood populations" which is known as homologous blood doping.
"The positive test by Kashechkin is another blow to the credibility of this team," said an Astana spokesperson. "This new blow will only embolden us to impose even more draconian measures for a clean sport."
Should Kashechkin, who was in eighth place overall when the team withdrew from the Tour, see that his B sample is also positive, he can expect no mercy from the team.
This year aside from Vinokourov they have also sacked German rider Matthias Kessler, who tested positive for testosterone and dropped Italian Eddy Mazzoleni, who was linked to a suspected doctor.
© AFP 2007