Vino sacked; Contador pursued

Astana on Monday sacked their team leader Alexandre Vinokourov following his positive test for blood doping on the Tour de France.

Astana on Monday sacked their team leader Alexandre Vinokourov following his positive test for blood doping on the Tour de France.

The Kazakh rider was expelled by his team from the Tour last Tuesday after failing the control following his win in the 13th stage on July 21. His sample revealed the presence of "two distinct blood populations."

Vinokourov has contested the validity of the results of both the A and B samples. He also tested positive in a second test taken on July 23.

The team said in a statement: "Astana has received confirmation that the B sample of Alexandre Vinokourov was also "not negative" and has sacked the Kazakh rider with immediate effect."

Vinokourov, who was one of the favourites at the start of the July 7 to 29 event, tested positive following his time trial victory at Albi on July 21 and his team immediately quit the event. The 33-year-old Vinokourov was the leader of the Kazakh team which had been built around him and which also comprised young compatriot Andrei Kashechkin and Andreas Klöden of Germany.

Through his lawyer, Vinokourov issued a statement on Sunday which claimed the national laboratory at Chatenay-Malabry had not mastered the flow cytometry test, which detects similar blood from a compatible donor for which he tested positive.

"These test results simply make no sense," he said in that statement. "You would have to be crazy to do what I have been accused of, and I am not crazy."

German drugs expert points finger at Contador

A leading German expert in the fight against doping claimed Monday to have evidence indicating that Tour de France winner Alberto Contador had used drugs. Twenty four hours after the Spaniard donned the winner's yellow jersey on the Champs Elysees the expert, Werner Franke, described the 24-year-old's victory as "the greatest swindle in sporting history."

Franke bases his claim on documents he says are in his possession from the Spanish police's Operation Puerto inquiry into Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor said to have masterminded doping programmes for athletes.

"The name of this Mr Contador appears on several occasions on the court and police documents," Franke told German television station ZDF. "All of this has been simply concealed and hidden under the carpet whilst the name Contador was erased from the list of suspicious riders."

Franke says he has a detailed list of banned products used by Contador which appear in sworn statements following the raid on Fuentes' medical practice. He gave examples these products to ZDF.

Contador, who inherited the lead in the tour de France last week on Michael Rasmussen's expulsion in a row over missed random drug tests, denied he'd had any links with Fuentes' drugs programme.

Speaking after Saturday's penultimate time-trial in Angoulême about why his name had been linked to Fuentes he told reporters: "I was in the wrong team at the wrong time and somehow my name got among the documents, but the UCI corrected the mistake and now I've got no link to Puerto."

Last year Franke claimed that another cyclist, Jan Ullrich, was a client of Fuentes and paid €35,000 for doping products. But Ullrich successfully managed to get a court injunction on Franke that prevented him from making further claims. Franke then admitted he couldn't read Spanish.

It later emerged that Ullrich's DNA had been matched with some of the blood bags seized in the Puerto raids. Ullrich, however, continues to deny any association with the Spanish doctor.

© AFP and BikeRadar 2007

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