Katusha’s Alexander Kolbnev, the only rider to test positive following a doping control in this year’s Tour de France, has escaped a ban and instead been fined CHF1,500 – equivalent to £1,061 – by the doping commission of the Russian cycling federation, the FVSR, reports Reuters. It is not yet known whether the UCI intends to appeal the decision.
The 30-year-old, who has always protested his innocence and says he ingested the substance accidentally, withdrew from July’s race after testing positive for hydrochlorothiazide from a sample taken on the day of Stage 5 from Carhaix to Cap Frehel.
At the time, Katusha issued a statement saying that "Internal rules in Team Katusha say that the rider, if the B-sample also tests positive, he will be fired and will have to pay five times his salary as a fine."
After the B sample was also confirmed as positive, however, the team released a further statement which said, “Team Katusha will take the final decision about his future only after the decision of the competent body, that is to say the Russian Cycling Federation.”
The chair of the FVSR’s doping commission, Alexander Gusyatnikov, told Reuters: "We found him guilty but also took into account extenuating circumstances. We plan to forward our decision in writing to the International Cycling Union (UCI) in the next few days and only after that we'll be able to give a detailed explanation."
There has been no reaction to news of the sanction as yet from the UCI, although world cycling’s governing body does have the option of taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to appeal the FVSR’s decision, as does the World Anti-doping Agency, WADA..
Kolbnev has twice been runner-up in the World Championship Road Race, in Stuttgart in 2007 and at Mendrisio two years later, and was also awarded bronze in the Beijing Olympics road race, promoted from fourth place after Italy’s Davide Rebellin, who had finished second, tested positive for EPO-Cera.
In a statement published on his website on Thursday 27 September, Kolobnev said:
"In view of recent publications in the press about my case, I have to declare that the situation is as follows:
'Anti-Doping Commission of the Russian Cycling Federation rules that:
Mr. Alexander Kolobnev has committed a violation of the UCI Anti-Doping Rules (Article 21.1 - The presence of a Prohibited Substance or its Metabolites or Markers in a Rider's bodily Specimen).
2. Mr Alexander Kolobnev is sanctioned with a reprimand and no period of ineligibility is imposed.
3. The results of Mr. Alexander Kolobnev obtained at the Tour-de-France stage of 6 July 2011 shall be disqualified.
4. Mr. Alexander Kolobnev is additionally sanctioned with a fine in amount of 1 500.'
"In light of this situation and waiting for what the UCI will determine about my case, it´s still being early to make any judgments. I hope it can be resolved with the earliest convenience and in the best way possible."
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.