Vinokourov banned; Schur admits Stasi link

By AFP | Thursday, December 6, 2007 4.15pm

Cycling's governing body the UCI has expressed its surprise and astonishment at the Kazakh cycling federation's decision to ban blood doper Alexandre Vinokourov for only one year.

Thursday's ruling paves the way for the disgraced Kazakh cyclist to compete at the Beijing Olympics as his suspension runs up to July 2008, the month before the Games start.

But UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told AFP they considered the ban was too lenient.

"We are very astonished and surprised. We're asking ourselves how the Kazakh federation could come to such a punishment," he said.

Carpani added that the UCI was studying the ruling and was considering challenging it at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Vinokourov was excluded from this year's Tour de France following his positive test for blood doping.

He was sacked by his Kazakh-based, Swiss-registered team Astana following the positive test, which consequently led to the prompt withdrawal of the whole team from the Tour.

The Kazakh federation's vice-president Nikolay Proskurin, explaining how they had arrived at their decision, said, "Documents and evidence presented by Vinokourov and his lawyers were not convincing. We decided to disqualify him for a year."

Proskurin added, "I think that should he want to, Vinokourov will be able to take part in the Olympic Games in Beijing."

Olympic champion Schur admits he was Stasi informer

Former Olympic cycling champion Jan Schur has revealed he was an informer for communist East Germany's secret police for seven years. The 45-year-old, who won gold at the 1988 Seoul Olympics in the team time trial, told a newspaper in his home city of Leipzig he was an informer for the State Security Service (Stasi) in 1982 until it was disbanded in 1989 following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

"During the first two or three meetings with Stasi agents, it became clear to me that it was not just about my visits to other countries," said Schur, who admitted regular meetings with Stasi agents.

"I was being pumped for information about other athletes and that I should denounce anyone who was not behaving appropriately. It was embarrassing for me. I did not know why they came to me."

The former cycling star insisted however he had never used performance-enhancing drugs despite the pressure on East German sportsmen to use steroids.

Schur is not the first high-profile former athlete from East Germany to admit Stasi links, because the former regime's stars were allowed to travel abroad for major competitions and were often asked to inform on their teammates. Olympic long jump gold medallist Heike Drechsler was accused of having links to the Stasi.

Schur went on to have a career as a professional cyclist from 1990 to 1994.

© AFP 2007

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