Cycling News Flash for July 25, 2007
Edited by Laura Weislo
Vinokourov positive for transfusion, Astana quits Tour
By Gregor Brown in Pau
Kazakhstan's Alexander Vinokourov
(Astana) tested positive for blood doping
Photo ©: AFP
The Tour de France was rocked by news that Astana's battered team leader,
Alexander Vinokourov, tested positive for a homologous blood transfusion
after Saturday's time
trial in Albi. L'Equipe reported on Tuesday afternoon that
the Kazakh's blood had shown evidence of a transfusion from another person
with a compatible blood type in an analysis done in the Châtenay-Malabry
laboratory. The positive test was later confirmed by the Astana team.
receiving the news, the Astana team suspended Vinokourov and quit the
Tour de France, according to a statement which read, "According to
the ethical code of the Astana Cycling Team, Alexander Vinokourov has
been suspended of the team with immediate effect. The rider asked nevertheless
[for] a B-analysis."
Coming up on
Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of
the Dauphiné Libéré live
as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe
time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).
WAP-enabled mobile devices: http://live.cyclingnews.com/wap/
ASO president Patrice Clerc received the news on Tuesday, and requested
the Astana leave the Tour, which the team accepted. "I was told by
[Astana general manager] Marc Biver that Alexander Vinokourov had tested
positive after a blood test following the time trial. I asked Marc Biver
that the Astana team leave the Tour de France and he accepted."
The news broke while Saunier Duval was holding its press conference and
its rider David Millar was asked to respond. "That is a surprise. I don't
know what to say," a shocked Millar stated. "Vino is one of my favourite
riders. He is a guy of class. Given what we have done, with our current
situation, we may as well pack our bags and go home," continued the Scot.
Alexander Vinokourov (Astana) waits
in the anti-doping car control
Photo ©: AFP
After minute of reflection, he clarified, "No, I don't believe the Tour
should stop here. We are 40 years after Simpson's death and the Tour still
Vinokourov was his team and country's big hope for a win in the Tour
until he crashed on stage
five and rolled in more than a minute down on the leaders, his knees
dripping with blood. He received dozens of stitches, but soldiered on
and came back to win the stage
13 time trial by 1'14 ahead of Australian Cadel Evans. He lost time
again on stage 14,
rolling in nearly 29 minutes down before storming back to a stage win
The Kazakh was rumoured to be targeted prior to the Tour by the UCI as
one of the 'men
in black' - riders who try to avoid out of competition controls by
training in anonymous clothing in out of the way places. Astana denied
that this was anything other than a way to avoid being pestered by fans.
Homologous blood transfusions have been detectable since the 2004 Olympic
games, and American Tyler Hamilton had the dubious honour of being the
first cyclist to be suspended for blood doping, an activity in which he
repeatedly denied taking part.
The team's withdrawal removes fifth placed Andreas Klöden, eight placed
Andrey Kashechkin, and 23rd placed Vinokourov from the picture, moving
CSC's Carlos Sastre into fifth ahead of Euskaltel's Haimar Zubeldia, T-Mobile's
Kim Kirchen and Mikel Astarloza (Euskaltel-Euskadi). Alejandro Valverde
(Caisse d'Epargne) and Discovery's Yaroslav Popovych now round out the
top ten overall.
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2007)