Vinokourov resigns as Almaty bid ambassador

Fri Feb 20, 2015 6:58am EST
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BERLIN (Reuters) - Former cyclist Alexander Vinokourov has stepped down as ambassador for the Almaty 2022 winter Olympics bid, officials said on Friday, after questions about the 2012 Olympic champion's doping past were raised.

Vinokourov, one of the most famous Kazakh athletes, won stages at most major races and the gold medal at the London Olympics but he also served a two-year ban after testing positive for blood doping at the 2007 Tour de France.

"Alexander Vinokourov resigned as bid ambassador, he was only part of the application phase," a bid official said in a statement.

Almaty bid vice-chairman Andrey Kryukov said recently that Vinokourov would stay on as ambassador after fielding questions during the International Olympic Committee's visit to evaluate the bid regarding his doping offences.

Sources said IOC officials had not been happy he was chosen as a bid ambassador given their organization's "zero tolerance" policy on doping and drug cheats.

Almaty and Beijing are the only two candidates for the 2022 winter Games after four other cities dropped out due to financial concerns and a lack of local support for the project.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)

Team Astana's Alexander Vinokourov celebrates winning the third stage of the six day Vuelta del Pais Vasco (Tour of the Basque Country) cycling race in Murgia April 6, 2011. REUTERS/Vincent West