Nearly eight years ago, former cycling pro and Astana manager Alexandre Vinokourov was accused of buying the 2010 Classic Liège-Bastogne-Liège from breakaway partner Alexandr Kolobnev. On Tuesday, Liège Criminal Court cleared both riders due to lack of evidence. Vino and Kolobnev faced six months in prison and fines of C$69,000 and C$34,000 respectively if found guilty of active and passive corruption.
Swiss magazine L’Illustre accused the two of race fixing when hacked emails seem to reveal Russian racer Kolobnev giving Vino his banking information, apparently so the Kazakh could deposit US$134 000.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Liege prosecutor’s spokeswoman Catherine Collignon said they were given ”the benefit of the doubt.”
Vinokourov raced professionally from 1996 to 2012, taking two editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège and the 2006 Vuelta a España. He polished off his career by winning Olympic Games gold in the men’s road race at London 2012.
Alexandr Kolobnev raced from 2002 to 2016, with plenty of impressive podiums (Worlds, LBL, Il Lombardia) but few big wins. He was plying his trade with Katusha in 2010.
Recently, the Astana principal said that his team wouldn’t be signing any other riders for 2020 after great success in 2019.