Fri, Aug 10, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Andrej Kashechkin tests positive for blood transfusion

AP , NEUCHATEL, SWITZERLAND

Andrej Kashechkin has become the second Kazakh member of Astana to test positive for a blood transfusion, the team said on Wednesday, joining team leader Alexandre Vinokourov who was thrown out of the Tour de France.

Kashechkin tested positive during an unannounced control on Aug. 1 in Belek, Turkey, Astana said. He has been suspended from the team pending analysis of his backup B sample.

The disclosure follows the revelation of Tour de France favorite Vinokourov, who was thrown out of cycling's premier event after also testing positive for a blood transfusion.

The entire Astana team was withdrawn from the race, and Vinokourov was fired by the team after his B sample confirmed the initial positive finding.

Both Vinokourov and Kash-echkin failed a test for homologous blood doping, meaning they both used the blood from another person. Blood transfusions work by increasing an athlete's red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the muscles.

Kashechkin finished third in this year's Dauphine Libere race. He finished fourth in the 13th stage of the Tour de France.

"Whereas the Astana Cycling Team makes great efforts to be rebuilt on new bases, the positive control of Kashechkin once more damages the credibility of the team," the team said in a statement. "This new hard blow does nothing but reinforce the will of the Astana Cycling Team's management to set up drastic measures for a clean cycling."

Kashechkin faces a two-year ban and could lose a year's salary under the anti-doping charter of the International Cycling Union.

UCI president Pat McQuaid was not immediately available for comment.

Astana suspended its activities for a month following the Vinokourov disclosure, meaning none of its riders will compete in any ProTour events this month.

Astana said it would announce new regulations and ethics rules at a later date. The first race after the team's self-imposed suspension is the Spanish Vuelta, scheduled to start on Sept. 1.

But Vuelta race director Victor Cordero said Astana's chances didn't look good.

"This affects Astana's participation in the Vuelta," Cordero told Spain's news agency Efe. "We have spoken with the team directors and they said they would take steps. We have agreed with them to study the matter and on Monday we will make a decision, which at this moment does not point toward that team taking part in the race."

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