The emails between Alexandr Kolobnev and Alexander Vinokourov following the 2010 Liege-Bastogne-Liege have been published in the Swiss magazine L'Illustre. Vinokourov has said he will take action against the magazine.
The Swiss magazine claims that Vinokourov paid Kolobnev 100,000 Euros to allow him to win the race. The duo were alone in an attack at the finish, and Kolobnev did not sprint.
“You remember that, for me it was a great chance. I do not know if I was right to do what I did,” wrote Kolobnev shortly after the race.
According to the magazine, Kolobnev admits to having let him win, “not so much because of our agreement, but mostly because of my feelings towards you and towards your situation.
"Even my wife was not too uneasy by the fact that I was second, because you were the first,” he continued.
If he had been up against someone else, “I would have gone for the victory, glory and bonus (in my contract that I have for these classics). That day I felt stronger than ever. Now it only remains for me to wait patiently to see if all this was not vain. My only comfort is that you won and not one of the natives (Belgian riders, ed.)
“Here is a copy of all my bank information and clear it from your mail box, or my balls may be cut off.”
Vinokourov did not reply until nearly two weeks later, saying he was busy with family and preparations for the Giro. “You have done everything properly, do not worry. As you say, the Earth is round and God sees everything ... So, again thank you. You, this year you will win the championship finally, I believe. Do not worry about the agreement, I will do it.”
Kolobnev did not respond to the magazine's request for a comment, but they spoke to Vinokourov, who is attending a training camp in Spain with Team Astana. He flatly denied the charges, saying, “No, there was no cheating at Liege-Bastogne-Liege. In my career, I've never done that, I have always fought to win.”
He did speak with Kolobnev during the race, “but in a breakaway, it's normal, it is not forbidden, is it?”
When asked if he would confirm sending money to Kolobnev, he responded, “It's my private life, I am not talking with the police, it has nothing to do with it. This is another story to damage me. Thank God, I am still alive for the public, for the children, for my fans. I won because it was I who went the fastest.
“I often make payments left and right, sometimes I lend money, but I never offered to buy the win from Kolobnev.”
Pat McQuaid, president of the International Cycling Union, told the magazine that “Yes, there are rules about that. It is clear, if there is evidence, there could be penalties after an investigation on our part.”
He would not comment on this specific case and declined to read the documents involved. “It is not necessary, it must be given to our legal department. It is not for me to study it, it's not my role.”
UPDATE: In a statement released Wednesday by Team Astana, Vinokourov said that he would take legal action against L'Illustre. "I can’t accept that gossiping about me," he said. "Behind this case, there are certainly people who want my skin. It's weird that it happened few days after the announcement of my candidacy in the upcoming elections in my country.
"It is a violation of my privacy, how can we explain that emails arrive as if by chance on the desktop of a journalist without knowledge of their origin? My lawyers will also prosecute anyone who infringes on my integrity."