Tom Boonen does not mince his words, with the Quick.Step sprinter calling for Alexandre Vinokourov to receive a lifetime suspension after testing positive for a homologous blood transfusion at the Tour de France. "Vino is a dirty cheat who they ought to suspend for his lifetime," Boonen told HLN.be. "He is causing immense damage to everyone. There are so many teams in search of a new sponsor. This case will not make it easier."
The Quick.Step rider was lying on the massage table when he got the news about Vinokourov, as a text message on his mobile phone. "We have all worked so hard," he said, "we have had fantastic successes with this team, and Vinokourov helps throw all of that away."
Boonen further claimed that Vinokourov was indeed one of the so-called 'Men in Black' - a term used to describe professional riders training in plain colours to avoid detection. "I saw him myself, wearing black," said Boonen. "Gert Steegmans saw him, too. I'm not blind. You know who hides themselves, who disappears for three months and all of a sudden can fly. I have always been told that you can't question the performances of others. But now I am starting to do that. Even if it makes me crazy."
"I am a victim of people such as Vinokourov, because I am in the same circus they are. I can only hope that I will be believed when I say that I don't have anything to do with doping. I underwent five controls before the Tour: four unannounced controls and once after the Belgian championship."
Of the remaining favourites actually left in this year's race, Boonen picked Australian Cadel Evans as one of the riders he still trusts. "I have given up my belief in most of the rest," he confessed. "It is possible to ride the Tour without doping. And to ride and win, too. And Cadel Evans proves in my eyes that you could win it without doping."
"I only know that the UCI has to do its best. Because it goes very far. I have no privacy any more: I have to tell them every day where I am. Go with that to a court and you will always win. But guys like Vinokourov apparently can't leave it alone. Then there is only one possibility: you test every god-damned one of them."