What do you call this one — a performance enhancing bribe?
The email evidence that bad-boy Alexander Vinokourov brought his 2010 Liege Bastogne-Liege victory from Alexandr Kolobnev is damning.
However, the real character flaw for the Astana rider is that not only is he a liar and a cheat but worse, he’s a slow pay.
After Kolobnev accepted the 100,000 euro bribe for letting Vino win a major classic, the Katusha rider didn’t even hear from the guy for two weeks. Then all he got was another round of email thanks but no money in the bank account yet.
First rule of selling races: never deal with people who might not pay you. Kolobnev says even his wife was happy about Vino winning but was she thrilled when Vino was too busy with his Giro preparations and family obligations to hold up his end of the bargain?
While bribery is just the cost of doing business in places like Kazakhstan, it sure doesn’t make Vino look like a stand-up guy. The saddest quote of all was Kolobnev’s lament: “Now it only remains for me to wait patiently to see if all this was not vain.”
We think the definitive answer of that one is a resounding no. As Joe Lindsey at the Boulder Report says, the Russian lost not once, but twice. If the UCI wins their appeal with CAS on Kolobnev’s failed dope test at this year’s Tour de France, he’ll be banned two years.
What team wants a rider who not only has a past history of doping but also fixed the outcome of a major race? We can’t think of any team that desperate. Plus, he may be missing a testicle once Katusha sends an enforcer to his house. He’ll be fined up to five times his salary and lose a ball in the process.
Many cycling fans and journalists weren’t too happy when Vinokourov won the 2010 Leige-Bastogne-Liege race. We’re guessing that in retrospect, Kolobnev isn’t too thrilled about that outcome either.
Vinokourov owed the Russian 100,000 euros. He owes everybody else in the sport an honest explanation.