UCI launches formal investigation into alleged Vinokourov and Kolobnev bribe
Governing body says Katusha and Astana's licences could be reviewed depending on outcome of probe
The UCI has revealed that it has opened a formal investigation into the alleged fixing of the 2010 edition of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, won by Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov from Alexandr Kolobnev of Katusha. It adds that depending on the results of its inquiries, the licences of both teams could be reviewed.
Allegations that Vinokourov had promised breakaway partner Kolobnev €150,000 to go easy ahead in the finale had circulated since being published in a Swiss magazine in late 2010, but the UCI says it is only able to take action now as a result of being passed information by Italian authorities involved in the Padua investigation.
In a statement released yesterday evening, the governing body said:
The UCI confirms that last week it received a partial dossier from the Padua Prosecutors office containing information concerning the victory of Alexandr Vinokourov in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic in April 2010.
The UCI takes these issues extremely seriously. The UCI has been requesting information concerning related media allegations since December 2011, when they were first raised by the Swiss magazine L'Illustré. To date, the information provided to the UCI has not been sufficient to take legal action.
Now, in the light of this additional information gathered as part of the Padua inquiry, the UCI will open an official inquiry into the issue. If this inquiry reveals any team involvement, the UCI may also, in accordance with the rules, ask the Licence Commission to re-evaluate the awarding of UCI licences to Team Astana and Team Katusha.
In the meantime, the UCI will request Alexandr Vinokourov and Alexandr Kolobnev to attend a meeting at its headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland, as soon as possible to provide the UCI with their response to the contents of the Padua inquiry dossier.
The UCI is committed to examining all issues arising from the Padua investigation in a constructive and transparent manner in order to safeguard the integrity of the sport of cycling.
No specific timescale has been set for the UCI’s investigation to be conducted, but with the registration process for WorldTour and Professional Continental teams due to be concluded later this month, time is clearly pressing.
Vinokourov, banned for two years after failing a test for an illegal blood transfusion during the 2007 Tour de France, retired shortly after winning the Olympic road race in London this summer and has moved into a management role with the Kazakh-registered team.
Kolobnev himself failed a doping control at the 2011 Tour de France and was fined but not banned by the Russian cycling federation, a decision subsequently upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport when it rejected an appeal by the UCI, which wanted a two-year ban.
Responding to the UCI’s statement, Katusha’s general manager Viatcheslav Ekimov said that the Russian team “is aware of the situation concerning Vinokourov – Kolobnev’s case. In this situation our Team will accurately obey all laws and regulations of the UCI.”