Vinokourov returning to racing after drugs ban

By AFP | Monday, August 3, 2009 1.30pm

Kazakh cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov will return to racing tomorrow (Tuesday) after serving a two-year doping ban which followed a positive test on the 2007 Tour de France.

Vinokourov will get back in the saddle for Tuesday's criterium race at Castillon-la-Bataille in southwestern France, organisers said.

"It is his first race after a two-year suspension, the return of a well-known rider who has turned in some performances" but also "someone whose image has become tarnished and who wants to prove something," said organiser George Barriere.

Vinokourov, 35, has been free to race since the end of his blood doping ban on July 23 and the possibility remains that he will rejoin his former team, Astana.

Vinokourov said at the start of the Tour de France last month he would be welcomed back to the Kazakhstan-backed team, which was created by and for him in 2006.

"Astana was created in 2006, it is our baby, I would not want to join another team," Vinokourov said on July 2 in Monaco.

"I am negotiating with Johan Bruyneel, but the Kazakhstan cycling federation wants me to ride in this team.

"This team was created for me and it is down to me and I don't see why I should not return."

Bruyneel, who led Lance Armstrong to his seven Tour de France triumphs and was at the helm when Spaniard Alberto Contador won this year's race, took over management of Astana after Vinokourov's drug scandal.

However, the team may be heading for a revamp.

Contador is now set to join a new team while Astana team-mate Armstrong has already signed a deal to ride for new outfit RadioShack.

© AFP 2009

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