It seems like only yesterday that Team Katusha were proudly declaring the first ever all-Russian Tour de France squad – headlines today make for rather less grandstanding reading as it’s announced that their rider Alexandr Kolobnev has had his “B” sample tested positive for a banned substance; making him the first rider in this year’s event to fail a drugs test.
Kolobnev spent his early days with Acqua & Sapone-Cantina Tollo before a stint with both Rabobank and Team Saxo Bank, taking Stage 3 of Paris–Nice and hitting second at the UCI Road World Championships, along with a host of other two-wheeled successes including Olympic bronze in 2008. Those glory days could be behind the 30-year-old now; on July 11 a UCI statement read “Earlier today, the UCI advised the Russian rider Alexandr Kolobnev of an Adverse Analytical Finding (presence of Hydrochlorothiazide based on the report from the WADA accredited laboratory in Châtenay-Malabry) in the urine sample collected from him at an in competition test at the Tour de France on 6 July 2011.”
With his second (“B”) sample also having tested positive for hydrochlorothiazide – a diuretic banned as it can mask the presence of other performance enhancing substances – his team have announced his immediate suspension. If ultimately found guilty of doping, he will, in all likelihood, face a two-year ban.