Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Vino begins legal action against Swiss magazine

(image credit: Petit Brun CC BY-SA 2.0
Alexandre Vinokourov has begun legal action against Swiss magazine L' Illustré after it claimed the Kazakh rider had paid team mate Alexandr Kolobnev 100,000 euros to let him win the 2010 Liège-Bastogne-Liège and said it had e-mail evidence to prove it. He had previously threatened to act if it could be shown that the magazine had hacked his e-mail accounts.

L' Illustré responded on Wednesday (08.12.11) by publishing extracts it says come from the documents it claims to have in its possession.

One of the e-mails, which the magazine says was sent from Kolobnev to Vinokourov, includes a sentence translated into French by the magazine as "Voici la copie de toutes mes coordonnées bancaires et efface ce mail de ta boîte, sinon je risque de me faire couper les couilles" - "Here's a copy of my bank details. Make sure you clear it from your inbox, or I'll get my balls cut off." At the present time, no evidence has been offered to prove that the documents are genuine e-mails sent between the two riders.

The article finishes, "D'autres révélations sur le système Vinokourov sont encore à venir" - "Further revelations about Vinokourov's system will be forthcoming."

Vinokourov, who returned for one last season after announcing his "retirement" following the crash that forced him out of the Tour de France this year, is no stranger to controversy - he was banned for a year after an anti-doping test revealed an unusually high erythrocyte population (evidence of blood doping) at the 2007 Tour, a ban that led to his first "retirement." His past record has led to him being painted as a villain, causing other magazines, newspapers and websites to repeat the claims.

The rider, who was recently nominated as a candidate in elections in his home country, believes there may political motivation behind the accusations. Now aged 38, another ban would almost certainly finish off his career for good. The UCI confirmed on Wednesday evening that an investigation into the alleged bribe will be carried out, stating in a press release that it "has asked that the magazine provide the UCI with any evidence which would allow the facts to be clearly established. Once the situation has been evaluated the UCI will decide, in accordance with the UCI Rules, whether any measures need to be taken."

"We have rules for that. Clearly, if there is evidence, there could be penalties after an investigation on our part," Pat McQuaid told L'Equpe.

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