Drug scandal rocks Tour


Summary

Tour organisers have expressed dismay but say the event will continue.

南宁桑拿

The Kazakh rider, a one-time favourite to win the event, tested positive after his victory in the 13th stage time trial on Saturday. Team manager Marc Biver said Vinokourov and the Astana team had been sent home.

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About 30 police officers descended on the team's hotel in Pau and sealed it off, preventing more members of the team from leaving.

"Alexandre denies having manipulated his blood," Mr Biver said, adding that the rider believes that "blood anomalies in his body" may have resulted from a crash he was involved in last week.

The French sports daily L'Equipe said the analysis was conducted by the Chatenay-Malabry lab on the outskirts of Paris.

It said two distinctive types of red blood cells were found in the A-sample, taken after his victory in the race's 13th stage time trial in Albi, and showed that Vinokourov received a blood transfusion from a compatible donor shortly before the time trial.

Vinokourov was also tested after he won Monday's stage, although the result of that test are not expected until the end of the week.

The official who informed Mr Biver said the Kazakh's A-sample "contained an imbalance of young and old blood cells".

If the B-sample also tests positive it indicates that he injected red blood cells from a compatible donor to enhance his performance.

"We have to wait for the result of the B-sample. But for us, if his A-sample tested positive then he is guilty until the B-sample proves otherwise," Mr Biver said.

Vinokourov won two stages this year – the time trial in Albi and Monday's 15th stage. He was 23rd in the overall race standings.

Police raid

French police officers departed the hotel of the disgraced Astana team carrying a number of bags and cases, but refused to make any comment.

It later emerged that French customs had stopped and searched a car from the Astana cycling team at a tollgate near Toulouse.

Police at Astana's team hotel, where rider German Andreas Kloden was still staying, were earlier seen removing unidentified items from the bus in black bags.

A photographer from news agency AFP said he witnessed police searching black rubbish bags, which had been handed to them by staff at the hotel.

Zero tolerence

Tour de France organisers expressed dismay at the latest doping case to scar the event and the sport as a whole, but said the race would go on.

"Everyone will feel betrayed," said Patrice Clerc, head of Amaury Sports Organisation, which owns the Tour.

"The public wants to see a credible winner."

But Mr Clerc said the Tour will continue.

The case brought back memories of some of cycling's darkest days.

In 1998, police raids turned up a stash of performance-enhancing drugs in a Festina team car, plunging the Tour in crisis.

Tour chief Christian Prudhomme said the sport will not tolerate cheats.

"I told the riders prior to the start of the race in London that this year was a chance for us to win them back (the public)," he said.

"The cheats must understand that if they want to continue bringing scandal to this race, then they're playing Russian roulette."

Rasmussen criticised

Ironically, the Rabobank team's race leader Michael Rasmussen, who has a 2min 23sec lead over Spanish rival Alberto Contador going into stage 16, is fighting off criticism over missed drug tests.

Rasmussen was effectively told last week he could no longer represent Denmark by the Danish Cycling Union (DCU) in the wake of revelations that he has missed four random doping controls in 18 months.

After nine days of trying to deal with the speculation surrounding

Rasmussen, organisers have re-confirmed their belief that the Dane should not have even been allowed to race by his team.

Patrice Clerc, the president of the Tour de France's parent company, ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation), said Rabobank's failure to inform them of Rasmussen's missed tests was a "lack of respect shown to the administrative rules"

"We should have been told, we would have refused his participation because he is not a good role model for the others in the peloton," said Mr Clerc.

The 33-year-old Rasmussen continues to claim his innocence.

The Tour finishes in Paris on Sunday.


Tour organisers have expressed dismay but say the event will continue.

苏州皮肤管理中心

The Kazakh rider, a one-time favourite to win the event, tested positive after his victory in the 13th stage time trial on Saturday. Team manager Marc Biver said Vinokourov and the Astana team had been sent home.

VIDEO: Tour in spin

Tour de France: Latest news

VIDEO: Stage 15: Vino's win

PHOTOS: Stage 15

Tomo's Blog: 'Prince' dumped from his throne

About 30 police officers descended on the team's hotel in Pau and sealed it off, preventing more members of the team from leaving.

"Alexandre denies having manipulated his blood," Mr Biver said, adding that the rider believes that "blood anomalies in his body" may have resulted from a crash he was involved in last week.

The French sports daily L'Equipe said the analysis was conducted by the Chatenay-Malabry lab on the outskirts of Paris.

It said two distinctive types of red blood cells were found in the A-sample, taken after his victory in the race's 13th stage time trial in Albi, and showed that Vinokourov received a blood transfusion from a compatible donor shortly before the time trial.

Vinokourov was also tested after he won Monday's stage, although the result of that test are not expected until the end of the week.

The official who informed Mr Biver said the Kazakh's A-sample "contained an imbalance of young and old blood cells".

If the B-sample also tests positive it indicates that he injected red blood cells from a compatible donor to enhance his performance.

"We have to wait for the result of the B-sample. But for us, if his A-sample tested positive then he is guilty until the B-sample proves otherwise," Mr Biver said.

Vinokourov won two stages this year – the time trial in Albi and Monday's 15th stage. He was 23rd in the overall race standings.

Police raid

French police officers departed the hotel of the disgraced Astana team carrying a number of bags and cases, but refused to make any comment.

It later emerged that French customs had stopped and searched a car from the Astana cycling team at a tollgate near Toulouse.

Police at Astana's team hotel, where rider German Andreas Kloden was still staying, were earlier seen removing unidentified items from the bus in black bags.

A photographer from news agency AFP said he witnessed police searching black rubbish bags, which had been handed to them by staff at the hotel.

Zero tolerence

Tour de France organisers expressed dismay at the latest doping case to scar the event and the sport as a whole, but said the race would go on.

"Everyone will feel betrayed," said Patrice Clerc, head of Amaury Sports Organisation, which owns the Tour.

"The public wants to see a credible winner."

But Mr Clerc said the Tour will continue.

The case brought back memories of some of cycling's darkest days.

In 1998, police raids turned up a stash of performance-enhancing drugs in a Festina team car, plunging the Tour in crisis.

Tour chief Christian Prudhomme said the sport will not tolerate cheats.

"I told the riders prior to the start of the race in London that this year was a chance for us to win them back (the public)," he said.

"The cheats must understand that if they want to continue bringing scandal to this race, then they're playing Russian roulette."

Rasmussen criticised

Ironically, the Rabobank team's race leader Michael Rasmussen, who has a 2min 23sec lead over Spanish rival Alberto Contador going into stage 16, is fighting off criticism over missed drug tests.

Rasmussen was effectively told last week he could no longer represent Denmark by the Danish Cycling Union (DCU) in the wake of revelations that he has missed four random doping controls in 18 months.

After nine days of trying to deal with the speculation surrounding

Rasmussen, organisers have re-confirmed their belief that the Dane should not have even been allowed to race by his team.

Patrice Clerc, the president of the Tour de France's parent company, ASO (Amaury Sports Organisation), said Rabobank's failure to inform them of Rasmussen's missed tests was a "lack of respect shown to the administrative rules"

"We should have been told, we would have refused his participation because he is not a good role model for the others in the peloton," said Mr Clerc.

The 33-year-old Rasmussen continues to claim his innocence.

The Tour finishes in Paris on Sunday.