Vinokourov and Kolobnev charged with bribery

AFP
Kazakhstan's rider Alexandre Vinokourov of team Astana reacts as he celebrates his victory on the podium of the one day cycling race Liege-Bastogne-Liege, on April 25, 2010
Kazakhstan's rider Alexandre Vinokourov of team Astana reacts as he celebrates his victory on the podium of the one day cycling race Liege-Bastogne-Liege, on April 25, 2010 (AFP Photo/Lalmand-Doppagne-Krakowski)

Brussels (AFP) - Controversial former Kazakhstan rider Alexandre Vinokourov and Russian Alexandr Kolobnev have been charged with bribery by Belgian justice authorities and will face trial later this year, Belgian media reported on Wednesday.

The now retired Olympic road race champion Vinokourov, 40, is accused of paying 33-year-old Kolobnev, who is still competing for the Katusha team, 150,000 euros to allow him to win the 2010 Liege-Bastogne-Liege one day classic.

Vinokourov, who is now managing the Astana team for whom Tour de France champion Vincenzo Nibali rides, allegedly made the offer to Kolobnev as they geared up for the sprint finish.

According to the Belgian media the investigators possess several email exchanges which detail 150,000 euros being transferred from Vinokourov's Monaco account to that of Kolobnev's in Switzerland.

Vinokourov, who was thrown out of the 2007 Tour de France for blood doping which led the whole of the Astana team to leave the race, has always denied the accusation and claimed it was a loan.

However, Liege prosecutor, Philippe Richard has charged the pair and the trial is set to take place in a few months' time, according to the SudPresse media group.