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Tour de France Doping Scandal Rides Again

PAU, France (AP) - Alexandre Vinokourov's positive test for a banned blood transfusion has prompted his Astana team to pull out of the Tour de France and authorities to raid the team hotel.

About 30 police officers descended on the hotel and sealed it off, preventing more members of the team from leaving. Vinokourov already had been sent home to Kazakhstan.

The case brings back memories of some of cycling's darkest days. In 1998, police raids turned up a stash of performance-enhancing drugs in a Festina team car, plunging the Tour into crisis mode.

His team says Vinokourov tested positive for a banned blood transfusion after his victory in the 13th stage time trial on Saturday. He also won Monday's 15th stage and was 23rd in the overall race standings.

Despite the latest blow to a sport reeling from doping scandals, Tour de France organizers say the race will go on. It ends Sunday in Paris.


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