By Gregor Brown
Kazakh Alexander Vinokourov had been handed a one-year ban from the sport by his country's federation stemming from his positive test for a homologous blood transfusion during this year's Tour de France. The 34 year-old, winner of 2006 Vuelta a España and 2005 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, will potentially be able to return in time to race the 2008 Olympics.
Similar case have resulted in two-year suspensions by riders' federations, and the 12-month ban for the rider who won the Albi time trial and Le Louron stage of this year's Tour seems light in comparison. The International Cycling Union (UCI) could appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), in addition, 'Vino' will be barred from racing with a ProTour team for four years.
"Documents and evidence presented by Vinokourov and his lawyers were not convincing," Kazakh federation vice-president Nikolai Proskurin said to AFP. "We decided to disqualify him for a year."
"I think that should he want to, Vinokourov will be able to take part in the Olympic Games in Beijing." Vinokourov finished second in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.
Following Vinokourov's positive blood doping control, he was suspended by the Kazakh-sponsored, Switzerland-based Team Astana. The team subsequently withdrew from the French Grand Tour, and was hit with the blood doping news of Vinokourov's compatriot, Andrey Kashechkin in August.