Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) will not have to pay a fine equivalent to his then annual salary of €1.2 million as a result of his positive test for a blood transfusion at the 2007 Tour de France. According to El Pais, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found against the International Cycling Union (UCI) and in favour of Vinokourov at a hearing in Lausanne on August 31.
Details of the hearing have not been announced by the CAS, but El Pais reports that the court found no legal basis for the UCI to fine Vinokourov a year’s salary. Ahead of the 2007 Tour de France, the UCI requested riders to sign a declaration entitled “Riders’ commitment to a new cycling,” which stated that the riders who incurred doping suspensions of two years and upwards would be liable to pay a year’s salary as a contribution to the UCI’s anti-doping programme.
However, the CAS has found that such a contract is not enforceable. El Pais reports that the CAS verdict stated that “this initiative, put in place 19 days before the 2007 Tour, is nothing other than a public relations exercise with the aim of restoring the credibility and honesty of cycling in general. The UCI does not have sufficient legal basis to claim payment of a contribution based on the signing of this commitment by the riders.”
In October 2009, Cristian Moreni became the first suspended rider to agree to pay the fine to the UCI. The Italian tested positive for testosterone at the 2007 Tour and was given a two-year suspension.
Part of the UCI’s July 2007 document, signed by Vinokourov and Moreni, read as follows: “I accept, if it should happen that I violate the rules and am granted a standard sanction of a two-year suspension or more, in the Puerto affair or in any other anti-doping proceedings, to pay the UCI, in addition to the standard sanctions, an amount equal to my annual salary for 2008 as a contribution to the fight against doping.”
Vinokourov was initially handed a one-year suspension by the Kazakh cycling federation when he tested positive for blood doping after winning the time trial to Albi at the 2007 Tour, although the UCI had requested a two-year ban.
He announced his retirement in December 2007 but when he intimated his desire to return to the sport ahead of the Beijing Olympics, the UCI successfully had his suspension extended to two years after appealing to the CAS. Vinkourov returned to racing in August 2009.
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