Vinokourov hits back at critics

2011-12-07 18:58

Paris - Controversial Kazakhstan cyclist Alexandre Vinokourov on Wednesday hit back at claims he bought his 2010 victory in the Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day classic.

Swiss magazine L'Illustre has alleged that 'Vino' - a Tour de France stage winner who won the race in 2005 and has served a two-year ban for doping - made a €100 000 ($134 000) payment to Russian Alexandr Kolobnev to secure his second win.

The report, based on an exchange of emails between the two racers dating back to the day after the race, alleged Vinokourov, 38, made the payment to ensure that Kolobnev did not push him to the line in a sprint finish between the pair.

Questioned by the magazine, Vinokourov, who retired in the summer having originally said he was retiring at the end of 2007, said he had simply offered Kolobnev a loan and denied any wrongdoing.

"I never did that in my career - I always fought to win," he said on Tuesday.

A day later Vinokourov insisted he would clear his name: "I can’t accept gossiping about me.

"Obviously there are people who want me to go down for this business. It's strange that it happened a few days after I announced my candidacy in upcoming elections in my country."

Team Katusha rider Kolobnev, whose future is currently hanging in the balance following a positive doping test at the 2011 Tour de France, is alleged to have passed on his bank account details in the Swiss city of Locarno, an account into which the payment was allegedly made.

Vinokourov blasted the allegation as "another story to blacken my name. I often loan money left and right."