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August 26, 2009

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Vinokourov returns to Team Astana

ALEXANDER Vinokourov, who returned to cycling this month after a two-year doping ban, is back with Team Astana and will race for the team in this week's Tour of Spain.

"From August 24, 2009, Kazakh professional rider Alexander Vinokourov will be part of the Astana cycling team," the Kazakh-funded team said in a statement on Monday.

"Vinokourov's first race will be the Tour of Spain which starts next Saturday in Assen, the Netherlands."

The Kazakh rider, who won the 2006 Tour of Spain, has signed a contract with Astana until the end of 2010.

The 35-year-old was without a team when he returned in a low-key race in France this month and said he wanted to return to Astana.

Vinokourov was banned for two years after testing positive for blood doping at the 2007 Tour de France. He denied any wrongdoing.

The Kazakhstan cycling federation gave him just a one-year ban, but cycling's governing body the UCI filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport to impose the standard two-year suspension.

His positive test came after he won a time trial. He was kicked out of the race and his Astana team was told to leave the event.

Astana was not invited to the 2008 Tour de France but returned in style this year, placing first and third through Alberto Contador and Lance Armstrong, respectively.

Seven-time Tour champion Armstrong has said he will quit Astana to form an American-based team in 2010 in partnership with RadioShack Corporation.

Spaniard Contador, who won his second Tour title this year, has a year left on his contract and Astana has said he must stay.


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