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Vinokourov to become Astana chief

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Vinokourov will become Astana's sporting director.

MADRID, Spain -- Alexander Vinokourov has said that his Astana-Wuerth team will end its remaining connections with Spanish cycling supremo Manolo Saiz following his implication in the latest doping scandal to hit the sport.

Vinokourov said that Saiz's shares in the Active Bay group that controls the team would be bought up by Kazakh businesses that have grouped together under the name of Astana.

He added that he himself would become the team's sporting director.

Saiz, one of the leading figures in Spanish cycling in the last decade, was released on bail in May after being detained for questioning following raids on addresses in Madrid and Zaragoza.

Liberty Seguros withdrew their sponsorship of the team soon after and Saiz was forced to step aside as its sporting director, but he continued to hold a share in the Active Bay group that controlled its successor team.

"It is right that he (Saiz) gives up cycling and that he isn't seen any more," Vinokourov was quoted as saying on Spanish website todociclismo.com on Sunday. "It is better that he concentrates on something else now.

"Within two years I will become the team's sporting director," he added.

Vinokourov was one of the favorites to win this year's Tour de France, but was unable to start the race after five of his teammates appeared on a list of riders named in a report on the doping investigation.

The Kazakh said he was now going to concentrate on the world championships in Salzburg in September to try to salvage a bad season. "Then I will be back for the 2007 Tour."

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