Vinokourov lost a lot of time against his main opponents for the overall win of this years Tour de France
after he crashed at the 5th stage, but the Kazach rider won the first time trail with a lead of 1 minute and 14 seconds. On
the second rest day of the Tour it was announced that 'Vino' tested positive for homologous blood transfusion after the first
time trail in Albi.
Vinokourov has denied any wrong doing. The 33 year old said: "I have always raced clean." Vinokourov
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."
The Astana team fired star rider Alexander Vinokourov on Monday. In a statement the team said that the team
"received confirmation that the B-sample of Alexandre Vinokourov was also 'non negative'. The rider is then fired from the
Astana Cycling Team with immediate effect."
On Tuesday Bike manufacturer BMC terminated their contract with the Astana team. In a statement BMC said:
"BMC has terminated prematurely its agreement with the Swiss/Khazakh cycling team Astana as per end of July 2007." The staement
continues with: "The reason for this is the latest case of doping that occurred in the Astana team during the Tour de France
that has just ended. Whether BMC will engage again in the future as a sponsor of a professional cycling team is still an open
question. The other current BMC sponsoring activities in professional cycling, mountain biking and triathlon are not concerned
by the present decision."
Astana also issued a statement, saying: "Following the last events, Astana Cycling Team decided to suspend
its activities during the month of August. This time will allow the whole team - management, staff and riders - to think about
its future." The team management will organise new regulations "on the level of the team's structure as of ethical rules."
But the problems for Astana seems to be much worse and the statement could be the beginning
of the end for the Astana team. Kazach sports officials doesn't seem to like that Astana sacked Vinokourov and backed the
33 year old on Tuesday. "I do not believe that Vinokourov was guilty of doping," Kairat Aitekenov, deputy minister for tourism
and sport, said in the capital Astana. The Astana team was founded by Vinokourov with the help of the defence minister of
the country who is also the president of the Kazach cycling federation. "During the race he was injured and received
treatment. He can't understand it himself, he's in shock," Aitekenov said. "To win by doping is something he would consider
below his honour, this is a principled sportsman."
Alexander Antyshev, executive director of Kazakhstan's cycling federation, said: "We will
insist that the results of the A and B sample blood tests were the result of his heavy fall."
Earlier this month Astana sacked Matthias Kessler after he had been tested positive for testosterone and Eddy
Mazzoleni and advisor Walter Godefroot terminated their contracts with Astana after doping allegations.