Alexandre Vinokourov has issued an open letter saying that he is ‘saddened’ at the comments made against him in the press
after his win at Liege-Bastogne-Liege on Sunday
.

The Kazakh rider failed a doping control for homologous blood transfusion at the 2007 Tour de France and was subsequently suspended for two years. The letter, issued on Monday and reproduced in full below, is the closest that Vinokourov has come to admitting that he doped and that he is sorry for his past actions.

Many felt that Vinokourov had no right to return to a ProTour-level team after failing a dope test, and many more thought that he should not take part in top-level races. His win was met with jeers from road-side fans on the finish line. 

When the news broke at the 2007 Tour that Vinokourov had failed a dope test, the entire Astana team were kicked out of the race and were not invited to the 2008 Tour as a result. His positive test caused widespread shock – Vinokourov’s attacking style of riding had won him many fans.

After serving his two-year suspension, Vinokourov returned to professional cycling in August 2009 in the team that he helped to create – Astana. His win in Liege is his most high-profile victory since returning to competition.

Vinokourov’s letter, issued via the Astana team communication department, is reproduced in full below.

“While reading the press comments regarding my last victory in Liege-Bastogne-Liege I was deeply saddened. I don’t understand this persecution against me.

I can’t do anything against the doubts hanging over me since the 2007 case, but I reject all the accusations brought against me today, without any evidence. Since my return in August, I have always been honest with the press, I responded to all requests for interviews, I have hidden nothing.

Ironically, my victory in Liège seems to revive old jealousies for which I am not responsible. The media comments contrast with the hundreds of congratulatory messages from fans that I keep getting on my website and my Facebook page. I don’t understand this discrepancy.

As if I had to be forbidden of success on my bike to leave everyone with a clear conscience. In which sport are we allowed to be at the start of a competition without the right to win?

I love cycling, it gave me everything and I want to give its good things in return. I paid two years on suspension for the dark years of my career. If I repeated that I didn’t want to talk about it, it’s only for the sake of my sport. I don’t think cycling needs to reconsider all these dirty stories to move forward. This is my personal vision of this problem, everybody is not obliged to share it. Obviously my attitude that I consider the most correct and most respectful way possible is one more time misinterpreted. I’m sorry.

Again, I have nothing to hide. Since my come back I have been the subject of more than 30 doping tests, all negatives, including 21 in the context of the Adams. This allows me to validate my biological passport and therefore to run. In Tenerife, where I had my recent training before the Tour of Trentino that rosed the indignation of some journalists, I was subject to two unannounced blood and urine tests in two weeks. I can’t do more than what the sport regulations ask me, to prove my honesty.

Today, I only wish to be respected as I respect everyone, my colleagues in the peloton as the journalists. I don’t want to be the only and too easy target for all the ills of cycling.”

Alexandre Vinokourov

Related links

Vinokourov’s Liege win leaves mixed emotions

  • Julian

    He is a cheat who does not have the courage to admit to such. He hides behind lies, innuendo and obfuscation. He taints the sport and should have no part to play in it, unless he wishes to ride with the other losers, Riccio, Piepoli et al.

  • Mer

    Vino has a great personality and is loved by his fans not just because of his attacking skills but because of the person he is. People can easily hate him and say he cheated because of the 07 tests. But there is so much uncertainty about it. Being 38 he;s the most complete cyclist and most inspiring unlike most boring European cyclists. I think Vino is a freak by nature and has the heart to win any races he wants. Everybody has an opinion and I support Vino! Go VINO!

  • mikey g

    C’mon all you guys…. Like it or not the rules allow it… If you don’t like the rules then campaign for change.
    I for one believe people should be given a 2nd chance….. as in most walks of life

  • Paul G

    It doesn’t matter how many apologies they give or not, they are still cheats. This is a sport based on physical challenge and extreme effort and as far as i’m concerned the guys who race are amazing… so when the ones who maybe aren’t quite capable or dedicated enough decide to take an easier option, it fills me with disgust that they even attempt to get back on our good side- and Vino hasn’t even really tried that yet up till now. Sorry Bruv- it doesn’t wash!

  • MickeyS

    @Mauhum

    Did you actually see the end of LBL? Vinokourov simply rode away from the cream of world road cycling in top form (Gilbert and Evans won the previous two races, remember, less said about Valverde the better) and completely buried a fella, Kolobnev, who had shown excellently throughout the classics. And he was hardly puffing! Kolobnev, younger by 8 years or so and in top form, was stuffed. I was a fan of Vinokourov’s attacking style, but no more. It’s a con. Sean Kelly’s a good barometer of these things in his commentary and he was definitely unconvinced. And now the statement bleating about ‘why don’t you all love me…I only want respect…’ Pathetic.

    I was looking forward to the European road season after Cancellara’s Roubaix effort and the likelihood of Cavendish having better sprint opposition this year, but then I saw that the Giro del Trentino featured Vinokourov and that other skunk, Ricco. My Eurosport subscription may not last through July.

  • tony moran

    The reason he can’t understand it is because he is just plain thick and insensitive!

  • Mike Lucas

    Its the same old story.
    Yes I may have cheated you, and the race organisers, and my fellow pros in the past ,so I could win races and earn good contracts. But I am a reformed character now, despite denying any wrong doing, so you can trust me implicitley.
    Lets face it, guys like Vino would still be doping if they had not been caught, and this argument “oh well I have served my ban” I deserve to be trusted now. What tosh. I thought the Pro Teams had an agreement about not signing banned riders. Or did Discovery scupper that deal when they signed Basso despite him being sacked by Tmobile for his inplication in Puerto?

  • Mauhum

    When Richard Virenque was caught up in the infamous Festina affair, all the others admitted the use of EPO. He however denied it for ages before finally admitting also. However, he came back to top level cycling, winning stages in the Tour, and was fully welcomed back (OK by the French mainly!) So Vino isn’t the first to try to win our hearts back. Maybe we should give him a second chance, especially as a race with him in, with his attacking style of riding, is always going to make things more interesting!

  • Wino

    We’ve had a lot of conflicting nonsense from vinokourov. As dave points out, he’s never actually admitted guilt (let alone apologized), but now – sensing his moment of glory going down the toilet – refers to his “dark years” in a pathetic bid for sympathy and congratulations.

    Directly after the race, he pointed out that he’s now served his penalty (therefore we should give him a break and say well done), but then immediately said that his victory was a kind of “revenge”.

    Revenge for what? Having been accused of cheating, of course. So does that mean you didn’t cheat after all?

    Are you contrite or defiant vino? Are we to congratulate you, or feel censured by you?

  • dave

    Vino is right the same as all the other riders who by their action tainted our sport in that there always will be suspicion. Unlike Dave Miller who put his hands up and admitted his guilt, Vino blamed all sorts of things for his failed test. However in his press release he tals about his DARK Years so is he tacitily admitting to doping ?

    I wonder if he will admit to it and then maybe he will have more sympathy from the rest of us