Astana team leader Alexandre Vinokourov has tested positive for blood doping. The news was first anounced on the Equipe newspaper's website and sent shockwaves through the Tour de France on the afternoon of the second rest day in Pau.
According to reports the Kazakh tested positive for an homologous blood transfusion after Saturday's time trial in Albi.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 and showed that Vinokourov received a blood transfusion from a compatible donor shortly before the time trial.
Vinokourov won the time trial in Albi and his two team mates Andrey Kashechkin and Andreas Klöden were both in the top five. Vinokourov won again yesterday in Loudenvielle with a lone attack on the final climb.
In the team statement, Astana announced they were immediately quitting the Tour de France. Vinokourov is alleged to have fled the Tour and returned to Monaco. French police surrounded the Astana hotel and searched rooms.
"According to the ethical code of the Astana Cycling Team, Alexandre Vinokourov has been suspended of the team with immediate effect. The rider asked nevertheless a B-analysis,' the statement said.
"Informed by the Astana management, the organisers of the Tour de France invited the team to withdraw, what was immediately accepted."
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