The troubled Astana team were again at the centre of a major doping scandal after revealing that Andrej Kashechkin tested positive for homologues blood doping in a surprise test carried out two days after the Tour de France in Belek, Turkey.

Kashechkin was immediately suspended by the Astana team until the result of the B analysis is known. If the test is confirmed positive, he is almost certain to be sacked, as was the case when team mate and compatriot Alexandre Vinokourov tested positive for the same homologues blood doping during the Tour de France.

The Astana team described the positive test as ?another hard blow? but insisted it ?does nothing but reinforce the will of the Astana Cycling Team?s management to set up drastic measures for a clean cycling.?

The team has suspended its racing activities in August but had just announced the dates of a training camp in Switzerland between August 11 and 24. 19 riders were listed as attending the camp, including Kashechkin.

Since Vinokourov?s positive during the Tour de France, bike sponsor BMC and race clothing company Craft have both ended their links with the troubled team. Astana have now had three doping cases so far this year, with Eddy Mazzoleni also quitting the team in July after being implicated in a doping investigation in Italy. The team were recently given a place in the Vuelta but may now face a difficult future after yet another case of doping.

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