Former cycling team boss Oleg Tinkov comes out against Russia's invasion of Ukraine

Former owner of Tinkoff-Saxo says war is "unthinkable and unacceptable"

Oleg Tinkov
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Oleg Tinkov, the Russian former owner of the Tinkoff-Saxo cycling team, has come out against his country's invasion of Ukraine, saying that the war is "unthinkable and unacceptable".

The former Tinkoff boss, the WorldTour team which included Peter Sagan and Alberto Contador, posted a message on Instagram (opens in new tab) criticising Russia's invasion, which has been condemned by the international community.

“In Ukraine, innocent people are dying every day,” Tinkov wrote. “This is unthinkable and unacceptable. [Governments] should spend money on treating people, on research to defeat cancer, and not on war. We are against this war!” 

He has been a billionaire previously, and has been labelled an 'oligarch' in the past. He is one of several high-profile Russian businessmen who have spoken out against the war in recent days, including the owner of London's Evening Standard newspaper, Evgeny Lebedev. 

“We at the Tinkov Family Foundation save the lives of people with blood cancers,” Tinkov wrote. “We buy equipment, train nurses, and help build transplant centers. I myself, twice almost being on the other side of life over the past two years, I was convinced how fragile life is. And there is only one.” Tinkov finished with the hashtag #nowar.

The Russian has had health problems in recent years, being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2020.

Last October, Tinkov pleaded guilty to US felony charges of concealing more than $1 billion in assets to avoid paying tax, after he gave up his US citizenship in 2013. He was indicted for this offence in 2019, because US citizens are required to declare income and pay taxes even if they live and work outside the country. 

He was fined nearly $509 million, and handed a suspended one-year jail sentence for committing fraud. 

Tinkov became a US citizen in 1996, and is the founder of Tinkoff Banks, previously known as Tinkoff Credit Services. He also has businesses in the electronics, pasta and beer sectors.

In 2012, he bought out Bjarne Riis' Saxo Bank team and turned it into Tinkoff-Saxo, which lasted until 2016. During that time, Contador won the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a España and Peter Sagan won the green jersey at the Tour de France multiple times.

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Hello, I'm Cycling Weekly's digital staff writer. I like pretending to be part of the great history of cycling writing, and acting like a pseudo-intellectual in general. 


Before joining the team here I wrote for Procycling for almost two years, interviewing riders and writing about racing. My favourite event is Strade Bianche, but I haven't quite made it to the Piazza del Campo just yet.


Prior to covering the sport of cycling, I wrote about ecclesiastical matters for the Church Times and politics for Business Insider. I have degrees in history and journalism.