With the news of a second positive anti-doping test at Astana it’s time for Alexandr Vinokurov to man-up for once in his life and take a hit for the sake of the sport.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:38 PM

To lose one Iglinskiy to a doping positive is unfortunate for team Astana, to lose a second in less than a month is nothing less than embarrassing. For Vino, Kazakhstan and the sport.

At risk of presuming guilt before the B-sample is tested, I'll press on because it's unlikely that Maxim Iglinskiy's A-sample is a rogue result. The technology is good and so is the science of sampling.

The statement made today by Vinokurov points more to where his loyalties lie, and as usual it's not with cycling. Instead he seems to be more concerned about his already tattered reputation and the external image of Kazakhstan.

"We will not tolerate any indulgences by any one entity, person or structure that violates these rules, I am very disappointed and angered that this rider could not have understood the basis of our rules and the importance of our ethics," said Vino.

"It is especially unacceptable on the part of a Kazakh rider who stands for the image of our team and the image of our country."

The Iglinskiy positives by themselves are no big deal, riders get busted all the time and this is no different. The sport has an ongoing process and that will take place. Usually we arch an eyebrow at the news and get back to what we're doing, but this is different because Astana is home to the current Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali, a rider Maxim Iglinskiy helped shepherd to the lights of Paris.

More on that in our podcast below, skip through to the 26min mark.



I feel for Nibali and any other rider on Astana not complicit in the transgressions of the Iglinskiy brothers, but mud sticks. With Roman Kreuziger not yet completely free of a bio-passport charge, one that occurred while riding for Astana, the team does not engender any confidence.

As VeloNews editor Neal Rogers points out in a special commentary on the situation, Vino is in a an absolute bind.

"The timing of the Iglinskiy positive, and the Tour of Almaty, makes for an interesting dilemma for Vinokourov," writes Rogers.

"Continue to participate, as planned, and the team's commitment to the MPCC is immediately exposed as a facade. Withdraw, as the team is bound to do, albeit voluntarily, and it misses an opportunity to trumpet its Tour champion on home soil, at the potential site of a future Olympic Games.

"A no-show on Kazakhstan soil would seem an unimaginable embarrassment for the Astana team. (Asked for comment, an Astana spokesman could not immediately provide an answer for the team's next move.)

"An oil-rich country that takes great pride in its athletic achievements, Kazakhstan seemingly sees no limits in what it can achieve, and no cost too high. Even with his doping suspension and bribery allegations, Vinokourov is a national hero, appointed by the former prime minister, who is also the head of the Kazakh Cycling Federation."

Vino is a rider who has always taken more from professional cycling than he's returned. His entire career has been characterised by selfishness, from a doping positive and suspension, to allegedly paying off other riders for victories.

I get that Vino is a tough guy from a tough part of the world, maybe that's why cynicism and not idealism appears to be his defining personality characteristic.

Yet I've always had a grudging admiration for Vino. He can be a bit of a loveable rogue and has a rakish charm. Maybe its the cheeky smile, a face that always looks like its about to break into a wink. It's been said before but it's also true, he is cycling's Bond villain. But his time is up, Alexandr Vinokourov needs to show good faith regardless of consequence.

If he won't, if he plays the usual cynical game, then somehow the MPCC, the International Cycling Union and organisers of the Giro di Lombardia need to do for Vino what he won't do for the sake of the sport.

Riders like Nibali should also be thinking of plying their trade elsewhere, for the sake of their own reputations.

Astana needs to be punted from racing for the rest of the season and Vino probably needs to be suspended from being anywhere near a bicycle race for at least a year.

Sadly I have no expectation that anyone will do anything at all. Which would be an even worse outcome than any of Vino's lifetime of sins.