The Court of Arbitration for Sport will not impose a racing ban on Alexander Kolobnev, the Russian rider who tested positive during last year’s Tour de France.
CAS ruled Wednesday that traces of hydrochlorothiazide (HCT) found in his system were “justified by medical reasons totally unrelated to sport performance” dating back to 2009. CAS also said that it would confirm an earlier decision by the Russian cycling federation to reprimand Kolobnev, but would not impose a racing ban against him.
It’s a major victory for Kolobnev, who claims he did not cheat ahead of the July 6 doping control in Vannes, France, in the morning before stage 5 of the 2011 Tour.
CAS ruled that traces of HCT found in his system came from an over-the-counter treatment he bought in Russia ahead of the tour for what CAS described as “varix dilatation.”
Here’s what CAS wrote in a communiqué Wednesday: “On the basis of the evidence produced by the parties, the CAS Panel found that Kolobnev has been suffering from varix dilatation, a chronic vascular disease, for 15 years, that he has regularly consulted a doctor for it, and that he has undergone medical treatment that included surgery and that, in order to treat such disease and enhance his venous system, Kolobnev was recommended by his personal doctor to use products called “Kapilar” or “Natural Kapillyaroprotector.” “Natural Kapillyaroprotector” is sold in Russia without a prescription. Kolobnev purchased the product in Ufa, Russian Federation, on 24 June 2011 and had the product with him at the Tour de France 2011; furthermore, the analysis performed on the product by the HFL Sport Science Laboratory in London upon Kolobnev’s request reported the presence of HCT, in the estimated amount of 6.3 micrograms per tablet.”
Kolobnev vehemently denied doping, but when the Russian cycling federation only ruled to reprimand him and fine him 1500 euros, the UCI decided to challenge the case to CAS and push for a full, two-year racing ban.
Kolobnev was released from his contract with Katusha in light of the case. There was no immediate word on whether the Russian outfit would take back the one-day race specialist and attacker who was bumped to the bronze medal from the 2008 Olympic Games in the wake of the doping case involving Davide Rebellin.
CAS also said that Kolobnev will be required to pay legal fees, some 690 euros, a small price to pay to avoid a racing ban.
Kolobnev’s case was the only positive from last year’s Tour de France.