November 09, 2015

AIGLE, Switzerland (AP) The doping-tainted Astana cycling team will keep its top-tier racing status next season.

The International Cycling Union says the Kazakhstan government-backed squad met the ''annual registration criteria'' to have its 2016 World Tour license confirmed.

Astana was put under scrutiny after five senior and development squad riders were caught doping with EPO and steroids since August 2014. In February, the sport's governing body asked its panel to strip the license following a critical audit of Astana's anti-doping work by the Institute of Sport Sciences of the University of Lausanne.

An independent licensing panel, however, ruled later that the team of 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali should keep its elite status. The team then faced monitoring throughout the season.

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