Russian rider Alexandr Kolobnev, formerly of Katusha, has been acquitted of systematic doping by the Court of Arbitration for Sport today after the court upheld the decision of the Russian Cycling Federation not to ban him for a positive test at the 2011 Tour de France.
Kolobnev tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide, which can be used as a masking agent, but claimed that it showed up in his system as a result of medication for a vascular disease that he has suffered from for 15 years. The Russian authorities decided to warn him and fine him 1500 Swiss francs rather than ban him, but that decision was appealed to CAS by the UCI, who requested a two-year ban and a fine of 350,000 Euros.
Ultimately, the CAS panel found in favour of Kolobnev, having been satisfied that the medication in question was recommended by his doctor and is available over the counter in Russia.
"The CAS panel was satisfied that the use of the product was justified for medical reasons totally unrelated to sport performance: the product, recommended by Kolobnev's doctor in 2009, had been actually indicated to supplement the treatment of the vascular disease affecting the athlete and not to help and athlete recover from physical effort or better prepare for a sporting performance," said the CAS report on the case.
Kolobnev parted ways with Katusha last year, at the end of a turbulent season that also saw him accused of selling victory at the 2010 Liege-Bastoge-Liege to Alexandre Vinokourov, when Swiss magazine L'Illustre printed an email exchange between the pair. The 30-year-old, who won silver at the 2007 Worlds and was awarded bronze for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing following Davide Rebellin's positive dope test, will now be on the look-out for a new team.