No place for Alexandr Kolobnev with Katusha in 2012
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Monday, December 19, 2011

No place for Alexandr Kolobnev with Katusha in 2012

by Shane Stokes at 8:47 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Team full, rider still awaiting final outcome of doping case

Alexandr KolobnevCurrently awaiting a hearing before CAS to determine if the UCI will be successful in imposing a sanction on him, Alexandr Kolobnev has been told by the Katusha team that, regardless of the outcome, there will be no place for him on the squad in 2012. Kolobnev tested positive for the diuretic Hydrochlorothiazide during the Tour de France and has not raced since. He’s currently cleared by the Russian federation to compete but the CAS appeal means his future is uncertain. According to team manager Hans-Michael Holczer, he will have to look for a different team if he wins his case.

“There is no point having a rider on the team who is in limbo,” he told Gazeta.ru, indicating also that the team now has the maximum number of riders which it is allowed.

On July 11th the news of Kolobnev’s positive test was revealed and he was asked to leave the Tour de France. His was the only positive from this year’s event.

As a specified substance, Hydrochlorothiazide carries a possible sanction under WADA rules ranging from a warning to a two year suspension. He claimed he didn’t intentionally take the diuretic.

Despite the positive, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev signed a decree in July awarding him Kolobnev the Order of Merit for the Fatherland (silver/second-class level), which is awarded to Russian citizens who are deemed to have implemented “special and useful deeds for the country.” This was done on the basis of his two silver medals in the world road race championships plus his bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics.

Towards the end of October he and the Russian federation confirmed that he would not be suspended for the positive test, but would simply be given a warning and a fine of 1,500 Swiss francs.

Then, earlier this month, the UCI said that it would appeal the decision to CAS as it believed the sanction was not adequate. It also said that it wanted to move to a new system where national federations were no longer ruling on cases involving their own riders.

While he’s become known for a number of near misses in races such as the world championships and the Ardennes Classics rather than a rider who clocks up victories, Kolobnev was one of the most successful competitors on the team.

His place as top Russian has now been taken by Denis Menchov, who recently signed a contract to compete with Katusha from 2012 and was pictured in the new jersey. He’s preparing for the season ahead, while Kolobnev knows that he must clear his name prior to securing a new team.

The latter has also been in the spotlight for other reasons, with the Swiss magazine Illustré alleging recently that he had accepted an offer of €100,000 from Alexandre Vinokourov to allow the Astana rider to win the 2010 Liège-Bastogne-Liège. Both riders deny the claim, and Vinokourov has vowed to sue.

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