Vinokourov 'bought' 2010 race
Alexandre Vinokourov (AFP Photo)
Milan - E-mails and details of bank transfers that allegedly demonstrate how Alexandre Vinokourov paid off breakaway companion Alexandr Kolobnev to win the 2010 Liege-Bastogne-Liege cycling classic were printed by an Italian newspaper Saturday.
Having obtained access to legal documents from prosecutors in Padua investigating doping, Corriere della Sera reported that Vinokourov allegedly paid Kolobnev €150,000 (nearly $200,000) to win the prestigious single-day race.
Corriere printed alleged e-mails in Cyrillic from the pair where they exchange banking information, adding that Swiss authorities provided details of the bank transfers.
The victory was Vinokourov's biggest after returning from a two-year suspension for blood doping at the 2007 Tour de France. He won the race with a long sprint to the line, finishing six seconds ahead of Kolobnev.
Vinokourov also won the road race at the London Olympics.
Details of the alleged sports fraud have been forwarded to Belgian authorities and the International Cycling Union (UCI), according to the report.
The first e-mail was sent April 26, the day after the race, from Kolobnev to Vinokourov.
Kolobnev allegedly wrote, "Remember well, I had a great chance. ... I didn't do it for the contract but rather for the situation you found yourself in ... If it had been someone else in your place I would have raced for the win, for the glory and the bonuses. ... Now I'm waiting patiently. Take my transfer information and put them somewhere else and erase the e-mail."
At the bottom of the message, Kolobnev attached his banking information for an account in Locarno, Switzerland, according to Corriere.
Vinokourov responded 12 days later.
"Hi Kolobok, sorry that I took so long to respond," Vinokourov allegedly wrote. "Don't worry, you did everything right. ... As far as the agreement goes, don't worry, I'll take care of everything."
After intercepting the e-mails, Italian investigators sought help from Swiss authorities, who proved that the account listed was Kolobnev's and that it was undersigned by a Bsi bank worker named Edoardo Coceprio, who is also under investigation by Padua authorities for money laundering involving a widespread doping system operated by Lance Armstrong's former physician, Michele Ferrari, according to Corriere.
Contributions from Padua prosecutor Benedetto Roberti helped the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency recently strip Armstrong of his seven Tour titles.
Vinokourov transferred €100,000 ($128,500) to Kolobnev on July 10, 2010, then the remaining €50,000 ($64,250) on December 28 of that year, according to Corriere.
The Padua prosecutors wrote to Belgian and Swiss authorities that they have "undeniable proof" of the fraud, the report said.
A Kazakh rider, Vinokourov retired from the Astana team at the end of this season. Kolobnev, a Russian, still rides for the Katusha team.