Vinokourov, Kolobnev acquitted of fixing cycling classic

Brussels (AFP) –


Former cyclists Alexander Vinokourov and Alexander Kolobnev were acquitted Tuesday by a court in Liege of fixing a major cycling race in 2010, Belga news agency reported.

Vinokourov, who won Olympic road race gold in London in 2012 having served a two-year doping ban from 2007-09, was accused of paying Russian Alexander Kolobnev 150,000 euros ($178,000) to let him win the 2010 Liege-Bastogne-Liege one-day classic.

If found guilty they faced up to six months in jail as well as fines.

But the court ruled in a 25-page judgement that doubts existed over the prosecution case.

The two riders were accused of having come to an agreement to let the Kazakh Vinokourov win the Liege race in April 2010 after they had broken clear of the pack and looked set to contest the victory.

The investigation was based on emails between the pair and two bank transfers -- one of 100,000 euros and the other for 50,000 euros, in July and December 2010.

At the time, the two rode for rival teams -- Vinokourov for Astana, where he is the current general manager, and Kolobnev for Russian team Katusha.

It is an open secret in professional cycling that occasionally riders have down the years paid rivals to let them win particular races.