The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has upheld the decision of the Russian cycling federation, the FVSR, not to ban the former Katusha rider Alexander Kolobnev following his positive test for hydrochlorothiazide during last year’s Tour de France. The Russian is free to compete immediately, although a return to Katusha appears unlikely.
Announcing its decision this evening, the tribunal's panel says it accepted the 30-year-old’s explanation that the substance was contained in an over-the-counter medication sold in Russia that had been recommended by his doctor to treat a vascular condition from which he has suffered for 15 years.
In a statement, it said: “The CAS Panel was satisfied that the use of the product “Natural Kapillyaroprotector” was justified by medical reasons totally unrelated to sport performance: the product, recommended by Kolobnev’s doctor in 2009, had been actually indicated to supplement the treatment of the vascular disease affecting the athlete, and not (as food supplement normally are) to help an athlete recover from physical effort or better prepare for a sporting performance.”
Rejecting an appeal by the UCI to ban the rider for two years and fine him €350,000, the CAS confirmed that the fine of 1,500 Swiss Francs (€1,245) imposed by the FVSR, as well as a reprimand, would stand. The only part of the UCI’s appeal that was upheld related to the costs of the anti-doping procedure in the sums of 2,500 Swiss Francs (€2,075) and €690, which were awarded against the cyclist.
Kolobnev had tested positive for the substance through a sample taken on the morning of 6 July last year, prior to Stage 5 of the Tour de France. The rider left the race five days later after the UCI revealed that he had failed a doping control, and his B sample also subsequently tested positive.
While not a performance enhancing substance in its own right, hydrochlorothiazide is banned by the World Anti-Doping Agency because of its potential use as a masking agent.
A one-day specialist and strong attacking rider, Kolobnev has often threatened to pull off a big win but instead has had to be content with podium finishes in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro di Lombardia, plus silver medals in the World Championship road race in both 2007 and 2009. He was also promoted to the bronze medal spot at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 after the disqualification of silver medallist, Italy’s Davide Rebellin.
The full award from the CAS is attached as a PDF file below.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.