July 30, 2007 / 2:13 PM / 12 years ago

Vinokourov sacked by Astana team

PARIS (Reuters) - Alexander Vinokourov has been sacked by the Astana team following his positive test for blood doping on the Tour de France, the team announced on Monday.

Astana team rider Alexandre Vinokourov of Kazakhstan cycles during the 15th stage of the 94th Tour de France cycling race between Foix and Loudenvielle-Le Louron, July 23, 2007. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

“Astana cycling team received confirmation that Alexander Vinokourov’s B sample was ‘non negative’,” the Swiss team backed by Kazakh companies said in a statement.

“Consequently, the Kazakh rider has been sacked by Astana cycling team with immediate effect.”

Vinokourov tested positive for homologous blood doping, a method using the blood from another person, following his victory in a time trial in Albi on July 21.

The Kazakh left the race last Tuesday and his Astana team were invited by Tour organisers Amaury Sport Organisation to pull out.

Vinokourov, winner of last year’s Tour of Spain, denies doping.

If found guilty he faces a two-year ban and according to the International Cycling Union’s (UCI) anti-doping charter will have to pay a fine equal to a year’s salary.

Vinokourov has questioned the competence of the French laboratory (Laboratoire National de Depistage du Dopage) that conducted the test.

“I have always raced clean”, Vinokourov said in a statement released by his lawyers on Saturday.

“These test results simply make no sense. Given all the attention paid to doping offences, you would have to be crazy to do what I have been accused of, and I am not crazy.”

Spaniard Alberto Contador of the Discovery Channel team won this year’s Tour which was marred by doping scandals.

Italian Cristian Moreni tested positive for the male sex hormone testosterone and his Cofidis team also left the race.

Michael Rasmussen was sacked by his Rabobank team when leading the race for lying about his training whereabouts, an allegation the Dane denies.

He had previously received two recorded warnings from the UCI for failing to provide the sport’s governing body with his personal schedule.

Last year’s Tour champion Floyd Landis is awaiting the ruling of a U.S. arbitration panel after testing positive for testosterone during the 2006 race. He denies using performance-enhancing substances.

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