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Vino given Beijing hope, year ban

Vino given Beijing hope, year ban
By Eurosport

06/12/2007 at 16:18Updated

Alexander Vinokourov has been handed a one-year doping ban for a positive test at the Tour de France, but could still be eligible to compete in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The Kazakhstan Cycling Federation handed the 34-year-old a one-year suspension that will go into effect retroactively from the time of his blood doping positive at July's Tour de France leaving him eligible for selection on the Kazakh Olympic team at August's Beijing Games.

"Documents and evidence presented by Vinokourov and his lawyers were not convincing," Kazakh federation vice-president Nikolay Proskurin said. "We decided to disqualify him for a year."

"I think that should he want to, Vinokourov will be able to take part in the Olympic Games in Beijing."

Vinokourov was the pre-race favourite at this year's Tour before falling out of contention during the race despite a pair of stage victories.

But after testing positive for blood doping the third-place finisher from the 2003 Tour de France was sacked from his Kazakh-based Astana team and booted from the sport's premier competition.

"Mr Vinokourov continues to assert his innocence of any violation of the anti-doping rules of the UCI," said Maurice Suh, the rider's lawyer.

"Mr Vinokourov looks forward to the end of his suspension and to the opportunity to begin returning to racing once his suspension is completed."

German Andreas Kloden, who played second-fiddle to Vinokourov at Astana during this year's Tour before the Kazakh's suspension, has decided, meanwhile, to resign with the team for at least one more season.

"Having reflected on the situation and spoken to other teams, I have decided to remain for one year more at Astana," Kloden said.

"I am content that uncertainties have now been resolved and I will devote myself to my profession. The quality of the team and its attitude has led to this decision."

Kloden finished second in the 2004 and 2006 editions of the Grand Boucle, but will have to compete with newly signed 2007 Tour de France champion Alberto Contador of Spain and this year's third-placed finisher Levi Leipheimer for support at the 2008 event.

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