The Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) will push for a harder sanction in Alexandr Kolobnev’s Tour de France doping case. It filed an appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) after the Russian cyclist received a warning and small fine by his national federation one month ago.
The Swiss court confirmed to Cycling Weekly that the UCI’s appeal against Kolobnev and his federation was registered yesterday.
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Kolobnev tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, a prohibited diuretic, after Tour de France stage five on July 6. Once the results were known, he left the race on its first rest day.
The 30-year-old joined Russia’s top team, Katusha last year after years with teams CSC/Saxo Bank and Rabobank. He has been unable to race following the doping positive.
On October 25, however, Kolobnev received an early Christmas present. The Russian cycling federation (FVSR) let him off lightly with a warning and a fine of £1,063 (1500CHF).
“We found him guilty,” commission chief, Alexander Gusyatnikov told Reuters at the time, “but also took into account extenuating circumstances.”
The UCI reviewed the FVSR’s decision and decided to appeal the case to sport’s highest court in Lausanne, Switzerland. It will push for permission to suspend Kolobnev for two years.
It leaves Kolobnev heading into 2012 with uncertainty because the CAS said a decision is expected only “in approximately four months” time. He is also out of contract; his two-year agreement with team Katusha ends on December 31.
German Hans-Michael Holczer takes over as Katusha general manager for next season and frees Andrei Tchmil of some responsibilities. Holczer, already dealing with his share of doping controversy at team Gerolsteiner, is unlikely to re-sign Kolobnev regardless of the court’s final decision.
“There’s nothing to say at the moment,” Holczer told Cycling Weekly. “I can’t say anything on it until there’s the final decision [from CAS].”
Kolobnev is an accomplished one-day rider, excelling in the hilly classics. He won the bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics after Italian Davide Rebellin tested positive for doping. He placed second in the World Championships in 2007 and 2009, second in Liège-Bastogne-Liège and third at the Tour of Lombardy.
He maintains his innocence. Last month, he said in a press release that it is “early to make any judgments.”