July 28, 2007 / 5:19 PM / 12 years ago

Vinokourov questions French laboratory findings

ANGOULEME, France (Reuters) - Alexander Vinokourov, who left the Tour de France after a positive test for blood doping, has questioned the competence of the French laboratory (LNDD) that tested him.

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. Vinokourov later left the Tour de France after a positive test for blood doping. REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini

The B sample also tested positive, the French sports daily L’Equipe announced on its Web site (www.lequipe.fr) on Saturday.

The Kazakh now faces a two-year ban from cycling and, according to the anti-doping charter of the sport’s governing body UCI, he will have to pay a fine equal to a year’s salary.

Neither the Tour organisers nor the UCI, the French Anti-Doping Agency and the Astana team could confirm the information.

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

“Never before this year’s Tour de France have I ever been accused of violating any doping law,” the Kazakh added.

“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.”

Vinokourov tested positive for homologuous blood doping, a method using blood from another person that has been detected since 2004.

The statement questioned the efficacy of the “flow cytometry instrument” that the LNDD used to find him positive and which the laboratory was using for the first time on the Tour.

“As of now, the public has only heard one side in these test results. We encourage everyone to keep an open mind about the test results and not to assume that the LNDD has done everything correctly or has achieved accurate results,” said Vinokourov’s lawyer Maurice Suh.

Vinokourov, who was sacked by his Astana team, was tested following his win in last Saturday’s time trial in Albi.

He had crashed during the fifth stage on July 12, hurting both knees, needing stitches in one of them, and losing one minute and 20 seconds over the favourites.

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