Kolobnev suspends himself after doping positive

But denies doping

Russian champion Alexandr Kolobnev has quit the Tour de France after testing positive for a banned diuretic following stage 5. His Katusha team announced that he had taken the action and said that team rules state that if his B-sample is also positive he will be fired and have to pay five times his salary as a fine.

French police arrived at the team's hotel during the first rest day of the Tour after the doping positive was announced.

"The President of the sport group Andrei Tchmil went voluntarily to the police, together with Kolobnev and his roommate [Egor] Silin, in order to translate and reinforce the fact that he and the team are not involved to the contested facts," said the team's press release.

The positive test for hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) was announced on Monday, and although the International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed the news, it said it would not issue a provisional suspension because the drug is a "specified substance" under its anti-doping rules, meaning that even though it is banned in and out of competition, there is a chance HCT could have been ingested through no fault of the rider.

The UCI did, however, indirectly call for the team to pull Kolobnev from the race in order to "enable the Tour de France to continue in serenity".

Despite having an opportunity to defend himself with a B-sample analysis in the coming days, the Katusha team pulled Kolobnev from the race.

The doping case is the third for Katusha in its history after Antonio Colom Mas (EPO) and Christian Pfannberger (also EPO) in 2009.

The 30-year-old Kolobnev twice placed second in the world championships, and was awarded the bronze medal from the Beijing Olympic Games road race in 2008 after placing fourth behind disqualified Italian runner-up Davide Rebellin.

At the time of his ejection from the Tour de France, he was sitting in 69th place, 22:15 behind race leader Thomas Voeckler.

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

Kolobnev denies doping

Alexandre Kolobnev has claimed he does not know how the banned substance hydrochlorothiazide was discovered in his urine sample taken after stage five to Cap Fréhel and has insisted that he has not been sacked by his Katusha team.

"Yesterday, during the rest day I was reported the laboratories had found a substance, hydrochlorothiazide, which I do not know where its come from” Kolobnev wrote in a message on his personal website.

“Therefore, waiting for more information, I have nothing to say about it for respect to the race organizers and cycling in general. After police's investigation made after being tested positive, the French police found nothing suspicious so we are waiting for the results and what investigation may say.”

He claims he had voluntarily quit the Tour de France as he awaits for the results of his B sample test.

“Asked by my team about what I wanted to do after this news, I have decided to leave the Tour de France in a voluntary and personal decision waiting for the b-sample in the following days and, again showing my respect to UCI and WADA rules. I must say that I have received all the support from the team from the beginning and I have not been fired, as some media reported yesterday," Kolobnev concluded in his statement.

A cultural problem

“We’re trying to rebuild our sport but guys like him still don’t seem to have understood that. They’re rogues,” Europcar team manager Jean-Rene Bernaudeau is reported as saying by L’Equipe.

“It’s a cultural problem. He didn’t study medicine. The diuretic is a masking agent and some one must have told him this.”

Kolobnev is one of five Russian riders caught up in the Italian police investigation into Dr Michele Ferrari and his links to Lance Armstrong. His medical record and contract were seized by police from Padova in April.

The Katusha team issued a statement reaffirming that internal rules of the Russian team would result in Kolobnev being sacked if his B-sample confirms his positive test for hydrochlorothiazide. He would also have to pay a penalty of five times his estimated £500,000 salary.

This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

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