Alexander Vinokourov confirmed his retirement in a press conference on Friday, one day following the Kazakh national cycling federation handing him a one year ban for blood doping. "I am stopping competition ... It's a definitive decision," he said according to AFP. "I don't want this sport anymore ... I'm slamming the door and I'm leaving."
Vinokourov went on to argue that other sports weren't treated the same as cycling. "I don't think cycling is dirtier than any other sport," he said. "We're 150 people, where are the others? Where is tennis, where is football? They've been told not to touch them," he continued. "I have the impression that cycling is an orchestra with very good musicians but a bad conductor. That's the reason the sport is a mess."
The 34 year-old was sacked by his Astana team following a positive test for a homologous blood transfusion performed on samples taken following the Tour de France stage 13 time trial which Vinokourov won by more than a minute over Australian Cadel Evans.
The news of the positive test led his team to withdraw from the Tour. The next week, an out of competition test on Vinokourov's team-mate Andrey Kashechkin gave a similar positive test. Both riders were fired by the team, but both riders maintain their innocence. Kashechkin is in the process of suing the UCI for violating his 'human rights' for performing the out of competition test while he was on holiday with his family.
Vinokourov has vowed to fight to clear his name despite his retirement. "It's sad that my career is ending like this but I want to restore my honour ... I will prove that I'm not guilty and get the results of this test rescinded," he said. He also indicated that he would appeal his one year suspension in face of a fight from WADA to appeal what it views as a light sentence to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
The Kazakh rider claimed a European bias for his predicament, saying that the nationally funded team met with opposition from the Europeans. "When we built the Astana team people started to talk behind our backs asking where are these Kazakhs coming from?" he said. "They told us they didn't want us in Europe."