Belgian prosecutors have decided that Astana team manager Alexandr Vinokourov and Katusha rider Alexandr Kolobnev must stand trial on corruption charges, according to a report on Sky Sports News.
Belgian courts have been investigating the pair since last year, looking into the allegations that Vinokourov bought his 2010 Liege-Bastogne-Liege victory, and have decided that there is sufficient evidence for them to stand trial. If found guilty, Vinokourov and Kolobnev could face anywhere between six months and three years in prison and a fine of €300,000-€600,000.
Vinokourov won his second Liege-Bestogne-Liege after he distanced Kolobnev in the final 600 metres. In 2011, the Swiss L'Illustre magazine accused Vinokourov of paying Kolobnev €100,000 to let him win the race and later published emails between the two that appeared to indicate an agreement between them.
It wasn't until 2012 that an investigation into banned Doctor Michele Ferrari uncovered two payments of €50,000 had been made to Kolobnev from Vinokourov – the first on July 12, 2010 and the second on December 28 2012. Following the Italian investigation, the UCI announced that they would look into the allegations but nothing ever came of it.
A court in Liege the took up the case in May 2014, looking at the two payments and a third payment from the Kazakhstan Cycling Federation into Vinokourov's bank account.
Vinokourov retired from racing in 2012 and has since become the team manager of Astana. Kolobnev has continued to race although he took an extended break from cycling in June of this year after suffering a crash at the Vuelta al País Vasco.
Both riders have denied buying or selling the race. Cyclingnews has contacted both Astana and Katusha, but has yet to receive a response.
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