July 24, 2007
'Jesus Christ, I'm speechless': Vinokourov positive, Astana out
Astana leader Alexandre Vinokourov apparently tested positive for homologous blood doping (receiving a transfusion of someone else's blood) after Saturday's time trial victory, and the entire Astana team has withdrawn from the Tour immediately.
David Millar was in the midst of a press conference when the news spread. Asked about the story, he said, “Jesus Christ, I'm speechless. It makes me sad. I have the impression the riders will never understand.”
A senior French anti-doping official confirmed to The Associated Press that there was a positive test for a blood transfusion taken from a rider at the Tour on Saturday, but said he didn't know the name of the cyclist involved. He said the test found two different types of blood, one from the rider, one from a donor.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no official announcement had been made.
The B-sample will be tested, but Astana policy is that riders are suspended immediately on notification of a positive A-sample. Astana management notified Tour officials, who “invited the team to withdraw.”
Vinokourov would be the first rider positive for homologous doping since Tyler Hamilton and Santiago Perez in 2004.
Once again, L'Equipe breaks a doping story from Châtenay-Malabry's lab.
Ken Conley looks at who stands to gain from Vino's ejection and Astana's withdrawal from the Tour. Notably, Cadel Evans would take the stage win from Saturday's ITT, and Kim Kirchen for yesterday. I bet Zubeldia would have sprinted it out if he had known the stage win was up for grabs yesterday. Tour officials haven't yet announced any action resulting from Vinokourov's positive.
Paul Kimmage reports on his questioning (back in London) of Vinokourov on his relationship with Michele Ferrari.
This news sucks, but really, who cares what a previous doper like David Millar has to say about it.
Posted by: James at Jul 24, 2007 12:25:04 PM
Holy crap- what a bombshell. At least this proves that doping does truly enhance performance. Wonder what his Stage 15 results will look like...
And to think people were starting to appreciate his skills...
Posted by: elton at Jul 24, 2007 12:49:19 PM
As always, you're right on top of things! Thank you for your hard work on the blog!!
Posted by: Nancy Toby of Lanterne Rouge Blog at Jul 24, 2007 12:57:39 PM
I thought Vino's voice had started to sound a little like Hamilton's. Blood swapping buddies. How cute. And everything Millar has to say is relevant. He's one of the few who's doped, confessed openly, done his time, and returned. Millar exemplifies the "walk a mile in my shoes" adage. Plus - I've heard that Rasmussen's taken on Alien's blood as well as bovine juice. This explains the bulbous head and the hooves for feet. Ever seen Rasmussen w/o shoes? Didn't think so.
Posted by: joe at Jul 24, 2007 1:22:55 PM
Maybe one redemptive thing Vinokourov could do before he fades into a legend of disgrace, as he leaves the Tour de France in shock and shambles, is to make an open appeal to all the cyclists who either look up to him or who are complicit with him to come clean--right here and now. This is an opportune moment. It's the moment for confession and truth-telling so that the sport can be restored to integrity. Let the chips fall where they may. But let's get it all out on the table for the sake of the future before it completely evaporates into cynicism and illusion.
Posted by: John Hay, Jr. at Jul 24, 2007 1:25:41 PM
As Vinokourov was dominating the Stage yesterday, I was thinking "be careful..you are asking for trouble" that level of performance can not be acheived without help.
Posted by: Patrick at Jul 24, 2007 1:35:01 PM
A very sad day for cycling. Vinokourov has let us all down. Did he really think he could get away with this. I really wince when I hear David Millar comment on doping. He should have been thrown out of the sport when he was caught cheating. There should be zero tolerance on doping - if you are caught cheating you be thrown out of the sport for good. Who will be next?
Posted by: David at Jul 24, 2007 1:36:11 PM
I believe three things about Vino. First, he was hurt badly enough in the stage 5 crash that he couldn't keep going without help. Second, the pressure of carrying one's county is tremendous (Astana WAS to continue on at least 10 more years directly because of his efforts). Last, his overall performance over the years has always been up and down throughout stage races on a day to day basis. To me, the varied performance shows that he has not been continuously dirty over his career.
I think that he got hurt very badly, just couldn't continue, but felt that he could not quit. It was a no win situation for him in every way.
Posted by: Kelly at Jul 24, 2007 2:12:55 PM
What a crying shame. This is the last thing the Tour and the sport needs. Bad enough that Rasmussen is under a cloud, now Astana and all it's riders are sullied and they were one of the few teams whose sponsors were rock solid into the future.
Posted by: Duncan at Jul 24, 2007 2:23:37 PM
I'm of a mixed mind when I read Millar on doping. Part of me agrees with David: zero tolerance. But having someone actually admit to a mistake is so rare in today's cycling world. I know a lot of people here want to believe Lance, Floyd, even sometimes Tyler Hamilton, are clean. I want to believe it too. But I just don't after all I've read. I wonder if there's been a clean Tour champion since LeMond.
And now with Rasmussen, Vino ... This is the worst Tour ever in some ways, at the same time that it's been the most interesting one on the road.
Posted by: Chris at Jul 24, 2007 2:25:28 PM
Poor Andreas Klodden who had to sacrifice his race for Vino and now the team is thrown out?!?
Looks like someone is clearing the path for Cadel Evans.. :-)
Posted by: Yogi at Jul 24, 2007 2:30:12 PM
Yeah, I was just wondering - since they were talking on Versus about Vino going into Astana team management soon - if a suspension removes that possibility for a few years as well. Anyone know?
Another question - which 8 teams (of the 21) are in this "Movement for Credible Cycling"?? Anyone know?
Posted by: Nancy Toby of Lanterne Rouge Blog at Jul 24, 2007 2:35:35 PM
I've got a question. What do they do if a rider actually loses blood because of a crash but is able to continue on and finish the race but actually DOES need a blood transfusion because his counts have gotten low? Would he still be a cheater? I'm not saying that's what happened here but just wondering what they would do if that situation arose. Would they have to force the rider to quit even though the blood would get him back to a normal hematocrit?
And I agree - poor Andreas Kloden. You think he hates Vinokourov now?
Posted by: Calvin at Jul 24, 2007 2:40:09 PM
yeah, i agree: outside of the tremendous detriment this is on cycling in general, klöden is the big individual loser. if he were a team leader again, does he have a shot of winning the tour or has that window passed him by?
Posted by: wern at Jul 24, 2007 2:46:39 PM
No big surprise! As I've said on this forum before, Vino is a selfish pig. He rides for his own ego, not for a team.
I feel for Kloden (he must feel like a sucker at this point) Why wasn't Vino back helping him on Stage 15? Cause he sucked up some more donor blood and said blank you to his teammates, I'm riding for me.
The silver lining is that Vino is history. Don't have to hear about him anymore, because now we know not only is he selfish, but a cheater as well. What a waste of a physical talent.
Posted by: JDN at Jul 24, 2007 2:59:43 PM
@ nany: it's
francaise des jeux and
t-mob will join them too according to the german press.
Posted by: cookie at Jul 24, 2007 3:16:31 PM
I'm confused. Why does the T-Mobile's Sinkewitz result take 1 month to resolve (June 8th-July 11th?) and is only announced after he crashed out, but Astana's Vino happen in only three days? How much of this is political versus science?
I also wonder what they found in Astana's bus...
Posted by: Brent at Jul 24, 2007 3:41:07 PM
Hmm, another thought - since all these guys signed The Pledge, we're talking the entire wages of 9 riders for the 2007 year, right? Whew.
I guess they'll all have to be extradited from Kazakhstan, though....
Posted by: Nancy Toby of Lanterne Rouge Blog at Jul 24, 2007 3:43:16 PM
When I saw Vino's time trial performance, I immediately suspected doping. Especially when he blew up the next day and then came back for a stage win. The announcers even mentioned that he was "schizophrenic" and wondered why that was. I assuaged my fears by reasoning that no one would be so stupid to dope and then win a stage because the stage winners are always tested. Guess Vino didn't think about that or didn't care.
Much of the rest of the tour seems to be clean because no individual rider has been able to really take control and dominate. Only in the last two mountain stages have Rasmussen and Contador begun to pull away from the others. Even there, those two look human unlike Vino's time trial performance.
Posted by: 61north at Jul 24, 2007 3:47:17 PM
Calvin, do you have any idea how much blood would need to be lost there?
I lost almost two pints of blood in surgery once and no one felt I needed a transfusion. Mind you I couldn't bike after that -- I have trouble biking the day after I lose one pint while donating blood -- but seriously, we're talking about pints! Anyone badly injured enough to leave a few pints of blood on course is too badly injured to continue, period.
Posted by: Andromeda at Jul 24, 2007 3:54:04 PM