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Vinokourov paid off rival - emails and bank transfers 'prove'

Allegedly paid Alexandr Kolobnev £120,000 to ease off in the final sprint

The Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera has accused Alexandr Vinokourov of paying off a rival to ensure his win at the Liège-Bastogne-Liège classic in April 2010, based on emails they say exchanged details of their banks to transfer the money.

Allegedly, the Olympic road race gold medallist paid Alexandr Kolobnev €150,000 (£120,000) to go easy in the final sprint, and in the end Vino came in six seconds ahead of Kolobnev.

The newspaper has forwarded details of the alleged fraud to Belgian authorities and the UCI, including Swiss authorities' confirmation of the bank transfer.

The allegations have been floating around for a couple of years, although this is the first time evidence has apparently been produced.

UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said the governing body had asked L'illustre for evidence of the case two years ago but were turned down. "It's a very old story," he told the Guardian.

According to the paper:

The first email was sent on 26 April 2010, the day after the race, from Kolobnev, 31, who rides for Team Katusha, to Vinokourov. Kolobnev allegedly wrote: "Remember well, I had a great chance … I didn't do it for the contract but rather for the situation you found yourself in … if it had been someone else in your place I would have raced for the win, for the glory and the bonuses … now I'm waiting patiently. Take my transfer information and put them somewhere else and erase the email."

Vinokourov is said to have responded 12 days later. "Hi Kolobok, sorry that I took so long to respond," Vinokourov allegedly wrote. "Don't worry, you did everything right … as far as the agreement goes, don't worry, I'll take care of everything."

After intercepting and translating the emails, Italian investigators sought help from Swiss authorities, who proved that the account listed was Kolobnev's. Vinokourov transferred €100,000 to Kolobnev on 10 July 2010, then the remaining €50,000 on 28 December of that year, according to Corriere. Investigators claim they have "undeniable proof" of the fraud, the report said.

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