By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) - The president of the Italian federation has expressed concern over the International Cycling Union's (UCI) governance under new president Brian Cookson in the light of the Astana case.
In a letter sent on March 27, of which Reuters has obtained a copy, Renato Di Rocco asked why the management committee was not consulted by Cookson before he asked the Licence Commission to withdraw Astana's license for recent doping scandals.
"In all the mentioned cases (Olympics, women cycling) we, as management committee members, have been directly involved," Di Rocco wrote. "However, concerning the Licence Commission withdrawal of Astana this procedure was not followed.
"On Feb. 27 we had received only a press release which informed us the UCI requested the withdrawal of the Astana pro team (World Tour) license."
Astana, who have Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali of Italy in their ranks, are expecting to discover in around two weeks if they will retain their elite license.
Kazakh-funded Astana had until March 20 to submit all documents in their defense and are planning to send a team to be heard at a Licence Commission meeting in Switzerland on Thursday.
Members of the Kazakh federation, sports directors, riders and the head doctor will be among the delegation.
The UCI said last month that it wanted the Licence Commission to strip Astana of their elite status.
The team were only granted their 2015 license "under probation".
The UCI, though, released a statement on Feb. 27 saying it wanted the license withdrawn after finishing a review of an Astana audit undertaken by the Institute of Sport Sciences at the University of Lausanne (ISSUL).
"We have always sustained the Licence Commission is, and must be, autonomous and independent. Why in this case does the Licence Commission not act independently?," Di Rocco concluded in his letter.
The World Tour license guarantees its holder direct participation in top races including the Tour de France, the Paris-Roubaix classic and the Giro d'Italia.
Several Astana riders failed doping tests last season. The UCI agreed to grant the team a license but only on condition they underwent an independent audit.
If Astana are stripped of their license they will be able to take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
(Editing by Tony Jimenez)