Astana fires Vinokourov after 'B' sample revealed

Updated: July 30, 2007, 6:12 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

PARIS -- Alexandre Vinokourov has been fired by the Astana team following his positive test for blood doping during the Tour de France, the team announced Monday.

"Astana Cycling Team received confirmation that Alexandre Vinokourov's "B" sample was 'non negative'," the Swiss team backed by Kazakh companies said in a statement.

"Consequently, the Kazakh rider has been sacked by Astana cycling team with immediate effect."

Vinokourov tested positive for blood doping following his victory in a time trial in Albi on July 21.

He left the race last Tuesday and, as a result of the positive test, the Astana team was invited by Tour organizers Amaury Sport Organization to pull out.

Vinokourov, winner of last year's Tour of Spain, denies doping, saying through his lawyer Saturday the test results "simply make no sense." Blood transfusions increase the count of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to muscles.

"Given all the attention paid to doping offenses, you would have to be crazy to do what I have been accused of, and I am not crazy," Vinokourov said.

If found guilty he faces a two-year ban, and according to the International Cycling Union's anti-doping charter will have to pay a fine equal to a year's salary.

Spain's Alberto Contador of the Discovery Channel team won this year's Tour, which was marred by doping scandals:

• Italy's Cristian Moreni tested positive for testosterone and his Cofidis team also left the race.

• Michael Rasmussen was fired by his Rabobank team when leading the race for lying about his training whereabouts, an allegation Rasmussen denies.

He had previously received two recorded warnings from the UCI for failing to provide the sport's governing body with his personal schedule.

Last year's Tour champion Floyd Landis is awaiting the ruling of a U.S. arbitration panel after testing positive for testosterone during the 2006 race. He denies using performance-enhancing substances.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press is included in this report