Katusha rider Alexander Kolobnev has tested positive for the banned substance Hydrochlorothiazide during the Tour de France. World cycling’s governing body, the UCI, broke the news this evening in a press release. The urine sample was taken on Wednesday on Stage 5 of the race from Carhaix to Frehel.
Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic that can be used as a masking agent for other prohibited substances.
The Russian rider is one of the best puncheurs in the peloton, but a big one-day race win has eluded him, both in the Classics, where he’s been on the podium in Liege-Bastogne-Liege and the Giro di Lombardia, and in national competition.
The 30-year-old placed second in the World Championship road race in both 2007 and 2009 and getting bronze in the road race at the Beijing Olympics in 2000.
Riding for Katusha since the start of last season, Kolobnev was previously with CSC/Saxo Bank between 2007 and 2009 and prior to that spent two seasons with Rabobank. His career had begun with the Italian teams Acqua & Sapone and Domina Vacanze.
On Saturday, Kolobnev spent 160km at the front of the race in an escape group including eventual winner Rui Costa of Movistar.
The UCI has come under criticism in some quarters for the delays in making public details of the sole positive test on last year’s race, that of Alberto Contador for clenbuterol.
Official confirmation only came after Contador himself had admitted it, two months after the race finished, as a German TV station was about to break the story.
The governing body is of course appealing the decision of the Spanish authorities to clear Contador, as is the World Anti-doping Agency, but it has wasted little time in announcing details of Kolobnev’s failed test.
The UCI statement released this evening says:
Earlier today, the UCI advised the Russian rider Alexandr Kolobnev of an Adverse Analytical Finding (presence of Hydrochlorothiazide based on the report from the WADA accredited laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry) in the urine sample collected from him at an in competition test at the Tour de France on 6 July 2011. Mr. Kolobnev has the right to request and attend the analysis of his B sample.
The UCI Anti-Doping Rules do not provide for a provisional suspension given the nature of the substance, which is a specified substance.
However the UCI is confident that his team will take the necessary steps to enable the Tour de France to continue in serenity and to ensure that their rider has the opportunity to properly prepare his defense in particular within the legal timeline, which allows four days for him to have his B sample analyzed.
Under the World Anti-Doping Code and the UCI Anti-Doping Rules, the UCI is unable to provide any additional information at this time.
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.