Astana boss dropped after IOC raises concerns over Olympic champ's past...

Alexander Vinokourov, general manager of the Astana team that won the Tour de France through Vincenzo Nibali last year but which subsequently became embroiled in a doping scandal, has stepped down as ambassador to Almaty’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

As perhaps Kazakhstan’s highest profile athlete, Vinokourov, who won the road race at London 2012, was a natural candidate to spearhead his country’s bid to host an Olympic Games for the first time.

But his involvement in promoting Almaty’s bid troubled International Olympic Committee (IOC) officials due to his doping past – he was banned for two years after testing positive for an illegal blood transfusion during the 2007 Tour de France.

According the Guardian, an official connected with Almaty’s bid said: “Alexander Vinokourov resigned as bid ambassador, he was only part of the application phase.”

But last week, the bid organisers had defended his representation of the project, with vice-chairman Andrey Kryukov insisting there was no evidence Vinokourov is currently involved in doping.

The Kazakh city has only one rival to host the 2022 Winter Olympics – the Chinese capital, Beijing, which staged the 2008 Summer Games, and which is aiming to become the first city to host both.

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.