Vinokourov tests positive; Astana withdraws from Tour
Vinokourov tested positive for homologous blood doping after his time trial win on Saturday
Double stage victor Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) learned Tuesday that he had tested positive for homologous blood doping following his victory in Saturday’s individual time trial.
Vinokourov and his Astana team have reportedly withdrawn from the Tour.
The 33-year-old had lost all chance of winning the Tour with a dismal performance in Sunday’s 14th stage but then bounced back to take Monday’s 15th stage in the Pyrenees.
Vinokourov, whose performance in Monday’s stage was feted in the French press with headlines such as the ‘Courage of ‘Vino”, had been criticised before the Tour by UCI president Pat McQuaid for his association with Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari.
The Tour de France was rocked by news that Astana’s battered team leader, Alexandre 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.
Upon 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, Alexandre Vinokourov has been suspended of the team with immediate effect. The rider asked nevertheless [for] a B-analysis. Informed by the Astana management, the organisers of the Tour de France invited the team to withdraw, [and] was immediately 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.
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 goes on.”
Will it ever end? This news is heart-rending, because Vinokourov has long been one of my favorite riders … always on the attack, not playing it safe in the field like so many of the top “contenders” this year.
Cadel Evans will be awarded the stage win for the time-trial. in Albi. Presumably Kim Kirchen will be named winner of yesterday’s incredible stage to Loudenvielle.
And of course, Michael Rasmussen is still in yellow, despite the ongoing allegations against him. At least Astana is doing the right thing by withdrawing.