Alexandr Kolobnev questioned by police, quits Tour de France after positive test
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Monday, July 11, 2011

Alexandr Kolobnev questioned by police, quits Tour de France after positive test

by Shane Stokes at 5:51 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
If B sample confirms result, Katusha rider will be sacked and faces huge fine
Alexandr KolobnevThe Tour de France will have one less rider tomorrow following the earlier news that Alexandr Kolobnev has tested positive for the banned substance hydrochlorothiazide.

The 30 year old Russian rider was questioned by police this evening, and the team issued a statement saying that he had decided not to continue in the Tour.

“Team Katusha rider Alexander Kolobnev, after testing positive for a diuretic at a medical examination during the Tour de France’s first week, decided to suspend himself according to UCI rules, waiting for the B-sample,” it said.

“At the moment, Team management and the rider have no further comment. It has to be noticed that internal rules in Team Katusha say that if the B-sample also tests positive, the rider will be fired and will have to pay five times his salary as a fine.”

The latter is an anti-doping ruling which it introduced in 2009. According to the team, the rider and others went to the police station this evening to discuss the matter with the gendarmes.

“Andrei Tchmil, the President of the sport group, went voluntarily to the police together with Kolobnev and his room-mate Silin, in order to translate and reinforce the fact that he [Tchmil] and the team are not involved.”

According to l’Equipe, police officers with the OCLAESP division (the Central Office for the fight against environmental damage and public health) arrived at the hotel came to search the hotel of the rider. The visit took less than an hour and ended at 9.30pm. He then left in a team car for the police station, where he faced further questioning.

Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic which can act as a masking agent for performance-enhancing substances. It is banned in both training and competition and, according to the World Anti Doping Agency, its use can lead to a lengthy suspension. “Depending on the circumstances of the case and assuming it is a first offence, it carries a sanction ranging from a reprimand to a two-year sanction,” a WADA spokesman told VeloNation today.

Multiple Russian title holder Kolobnev is a double silver medallist in the world road race championship, an Olympic road race bronze medallist and a runner up in both the 2010 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the 2011 GP Miguel Indurain.

Prior to leaving the race, he was sitting 69th overall in the Tour de France, 22 minutes and 15 seconds behind race leader Thomas Voeckler (Europcar). He is the first rider to test positive at this year's Tour.

The UCI confirmed the news earlier today, but said that due to the nature of the substance, it was not able to give him a provisional suspension until such time as the result was confirmed by a B sample. However it made clear what course of action it felt the team should take, a stance which was likely repeated by the Tour de France organisers.

“The UCI is confident that his team will take the necessary steps to enable the Tour de France to continue in serenity,” it said, “and to ensure that their rider has the opportunity to properly prepare his defense in particular within the legal timeline, which allows four days for him to have his B sample analyzed.”

Kolobnev was previously reported by some Spanish media sources as being linked to the controversial doctor Jesus Losa, who was under investigation by authorities there.


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