Alexandr Kolobnev has said that he believes he is being discriminated against after his requests for further information on his impending trial have been ignored. It was revealed yesterday that the Katusha rider would have to stand trial on private corruption charges, after supposedly selling the 2010 Liege-Bastogne-Liege race.
He has tried to get further information from the Belgian courts, but has hit a brick wall. "Since I do not speak French, I find it hard to understand the situation. As it turned out, the whole thing is written in French, and I, not being a citizen of Europe and not knowing French, I have every right to ask for its translation," Kolbnev told the Russian F-Sport agency.
"The translation of some documents was simply rejected, without any valid reason. I do not know how they are going to communicate with me, maybe someone will call me to the Belgian court. My guess: I expect they are just discriminating against me, and (Alexandre) Vinokourov, because we are not Europeans, and using our publicity and continuing to 'ride' on it. This is not new. In fact I have not seen anything more stupid and so blatantly discriminatory."
The main evidence seems to revolve around the emails between Kolobnev and Vinokourov that were published in Swiss magazine L'Illustre in 2011. There is also evidence of payments between the two, which were uncovered during an investigation into banned doctor Michele Ferrari. Kolobnev told the Russian sports agency that he has been trying to identify the source of the information on himself and Vinokourov.
"When I tried to expand the investigation to identify him, I was immediately denied. As it turned out, the journalist is protected by non-disclosure of the source. He refused to answer police. And he's Swiss, the case is in Belgium, and I'm just a citizen of a non-European country – Russia," said Kolobnev.
The 34-year-old has previously denied selling the race to Vinokourov. He says that there is nothing new in what has been published lately but that it could hamper his chances of securing any future contracts.
"It's done, it’s just the release of the same information with different variations on the theme," said Kolobnev. "It damages and creates enormous difficulties when signing a contract with the team, the sponsors, it personally inflicts great damage."
Kolobnev is currently taking time out of cycling following a serious injury earlier this season. Cyclingnews contacted Katusha after the case was made public yesterday but they declined to comment while it was ongoing. According to F-Sport, the case is expected to appear before the court on October 15.