Kolobnev, only Tour de France doping positive, gets warning

Russian champion Alexandre Kolobnev (Katusha).

Russian champion Alexandre Kolobnev (Katusha). (Image credit: Stephen Farrand)

Russian Alexandr Kolobnev, the only rider in the 2011 Tour de France to test positive for a banned substance, has been recommended a warning and fine by the Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA), news.sport-express.ru reported today. The final decision is due in the next two weeks.

Kolobnev, 30, tested positive for a diuretic, hydrochlorothiazide (HCT), on stage 5 of the Tour de France, and quit the race on the first rest day pending confirmation of the B-sample testing. The result was confirmed nine days later.

The Katusha rider denied doping, and judging from his punishment by the Russian authorities, he was able to demonstrate that he did not intentionally ingest the substance. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules allow for situations where athletes may unintentionally ingest banned substances through, for example, contaminated supplements.

These drugs are classified in the WADA Prohibited List as "specified substances", of which HCT is one.

The WADA web site explains, "Generally speaking, 'specified substances' are substances that are more susceptible to a credible, non-doping explanation. If the athlete can prove that he or she did not intend to enhance performance by using them to the satisfaction of the results management authority, the sanction under the World Anti-Doping Code can go from a warning to a 2-year ban."

However, HCT is the same substance for which Belgian Iljo Keisse tested positive, and the UCI and WADA appealed his federation's decision to let him go with minimal punishment. However, when Keisse tested positive in 2008, the current 'specified substance' rules were not in place at the time of his positive test.

The Russian federation will forward the dossier on Kolobnev's case to the UCI, which will then, along with WADA, have one month and three weeks, respectively, to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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