Russian exits Tour de France, stands to be fired
Russian champion Alexandr Kolobnev has quit the Tour de France after testing positive for a banned diuretic following stage 5. His Katusha team announced that he had taken the action and said that team rules state that if his B-sample is also positive he will be fired and have to pay five times his salary as a fine.
French police arrived at the team's hotel during the first rest day of the Tour after the doping positive was announced.
"The President of the sport group Andrei Tchmil went voluntarily to the police, together with Kolobnev and his roommate [Egor] Silin, in order to translate and reinforce the fact that he and the team are not involved to the contested facts," said the team's press release.
The positive test for hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) was announced on Monday, and although the International Cycling Union (UCI) confirmed the news, it said it would not issue a provisional suspension because the drug is a "specified substance" under its anti-doping rules, meaning that even though it is banned in and out of competition, there is a chance HCT could have been ingested through no fault of the rider.
The UCI did, however, indirectly call for the team to pull Kolobnev from the race in order to "enable the Tour de France to continue in serenity".
Despite having an opportunity to defend himself with a B-sample analysis in the coming days, the Katusha team pulled Kolobnev from the race and gave him his walking papers.
The doping case is the third for Katusha in its history after Antonio Colom Mas (EPO) and Christian Pfannberger (also EPO) in 2009.
The 30-year-old Kolobnev twice placed second in the world championships, and was awarded the bronze medal from the Beijing Olympic Games road race in 2008 after placing fourth behind disqualified Italian runner-up Davide Rebellin.
At the time of his ejection from the Tour de France, he was sitting in 69th place, 22:15 behind race leader Thomas Voeckler.
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