Vincenzo Nibali's Astana to keep WorldTour licence

By Matt SlaterBBC Sport
Vincenzo Nibali
Nibali was critical of UCI president Brian Cookson this week for delays in the case

The International Cycling Union (UCI) has backed down in its bid to throw Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali's Astana team out of its elite circuit.

The UCI asked its licence commission to revoke the Kazakh-based team's WorldTour status in February.

This followed a string of positive doping tests at the team and its development squad last year.

But Astana and UCI lawyers met in Geneva on Thursday to agree a deal that sees the team keep its licence.

The main provision is that Astana's anti-doping procedures will continue to be scrutinised by independent experts at the University of Lausanne.

"Astana Pro Team is grateful to the License Commission for the opportunity to present the team's commitment to observing the UCI's ethical criteria," read a statement.

It means that Nibali is free to defend his Tour de France title and that team-mate and fellow Italian Fabio Aru can race in next month's Giro d'Italia.

It is not the first time that an appeal of this kind has been successful.

In 2013, Russian team Katusha successfully appealed its lost licence at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Who are Astana?
The team, sponsored by a group of leading Kazakh companies, were initially granted a licence last year under strict terms
They were founded in 2007 and are named after the former Soviet republic's capital
Astana emerged from the wreckage of a Spanish outfit who were at the centre of the Operation Puerto doping scandal and had their original licence application rejected
Team leader Alexander Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping at the 2007 Tour de France
Drugs cheat Lance Armstong rode for them during his comeback in 2009
While with the team, Alberto Contador, Roman Kreuziger, Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy, and three Kazakh members of the development squad have all been embroiled in doping controversies