Vinokourov and Kolobnev Liège file sent to the UCI for investigation
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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Vinokourov and Kolobnev Liège file sent to the UCI for investigation

by Ben Atkins at 12:27 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Liège-Bastogne-Liège
Includes email exchange that allegedly proves payment of €150,000 to secure Monument victory

alexandre vinokourovA file containing an email exchange between Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) and Alexandr Kolbnev (Katusha), which allegedly proves that the former paid €150,000 to the latter for allowing him to win Liège-Bastogne-Liège in 2010 has been sent to the International Cycling Union (UCI) for investigation, according to Italian newspaper la Corriere della Sera.

The two riders escaped a favourite-packed group of riders in the closing kilometres of the 259km Ardennes Classic. Those chasing behind included Alejandro Valverde [who finished third but was later disqualified due to his links with Operación Puerto - ed], Philippe Gilbert [who was latterly awarded third place - ed], 2009 winner Andy Schleck and elder brother Fränk, Alberto Contador, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner and Igor Antón. Vinokourov then escaped on the final climb to the finish to take his second victory in the oldest of the Classics.

In December 2011, however, it was alleged by Swiss magazine l’Illustre that Vinokourov had paid Kolobnev to let him win, which is in direct contravention of UCI regulation 1.2.081. This rule states that: “Riders shall sportingly defend their own chances. Any collusion or behaviour likely to falsify or go against the interests of the competition shall be forbidden.”

The file sent to the UCI contains emails between the two riders, where Kolobnev expressed his family’s regret that he couldn’t win the race himself, and wondering when the allegedly promised payment will arrive. Vinokourov responds, assuring the Russian that the money will arrive.

"Do you remember well, I had a good chance…” Kolobnev allegedly wrote on April 26th 2010, the day after the race. “Even my wife was disappointed that I finished second… Now I’m waiting patiently…”

The email then lists details of the Russian’s Swiss bank account.

Almost two weeks later, on May 8th, Vinokourov replied: “Hello Kolobok,” he wrote. “I’m sorry I didn’t answer for a long time. Don’t worry, you did everything right…

“According to the agreement, don't worry, I'll do everything. You'll have to wait a while. Sleep well. Vino”

The file then contains evidence of two transactions between the two riders bank accounts - one of €100,000 in July 2010, and then one of €50,000 in December 2010 - which allegedly shows that Vinokourov paid Kolobnev €150,000 to throw the race.

Should the UCI rule that the two riders were guilty of race-fixing, both should see their names struck from the result and possibly face a suspension [Vinokourov has retired, but is expected to take up a management role in the Astana team - ed].  Since Valverde has already been disqualified, this would mean that Gilbert would be awarded the victory, even though he was not even on the race podium that day.


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