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March 2, 2020
Oleg Tinkov, former owner of the Tinkoff-Saxo cycling team, is currently battling extradition to the US on tax fraud charges.
Tinkov appeared before Westminster Magistrates Court last Thursday, where he paid a £20 million bail to avoid jail-time as he fights extradition.
US prosecutors have accused him of financial deception – specifically submitting a false tax return, under-reporting his 2013 income – and have issued a provisional arrest warrant.
Tinkov is one of the more colourful characters to have graced the sport of cycling in recent years. He was involved in cycling from 2012 in partnership with Bjarne Riis; he bought the team outright in 2013, running it to the end of the 2016 season under the names Saxo Bank-Tinkoff, Tinkoff-Saxo, and finally, Tinkoff. Landmark riders for the team through that era included Alberto Contador and Peter Sagan.
The eight-million-customer online bank from which the team took its name is just one of Tinkov’s business interests. He is also the owner of the La Datcha chain of luxury resorts, a frozen food factory, a record label and a music store. In 2014, his net worth was estimated by Forbes at £1.9billion.
Ahead of his next court date, Tinkov has surrendered his passport and is under strict curfew conditions in his London flat, having been banned from leaving between 7pm and 7am.
As for Tinkov and cycling: in 2016, he vowed to make a return to the sport once Froome had retired. “I’m waiting for the end of the Froome-age to get back in the peloton. But one thing is certain: I will come back to win the Tour,” he told Sporza.
Those plans, for now, might have to wait.