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Oleg Tinkov warns of Tinkoff-Saxo's demise if economic sanctions against Russia continue

Tinkoff-Saxo owner Oleg Tinkov has warned he may have to shut down his team if economic sanctions against Russia continue.

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Tinkov - arguably cycling's most outspoken individual - questioned why the international community, led by the United States, has imposed economic sanctions on his homeland in a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg TV.

And while cycling was not the main point of the interview, Tinkov could not resist dropping a bombshell by questioning the future of his team, which includes Alberto Contador.

Economic sanctions from the USA, the European Union, Australia, Canada and Japan have been used against Russia since their annexation of most of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine.

"If the sanctions will deteriorate the Russian economy, and share prices decline even more... then the Tinkoff bank starts to suffer, then I stop my sponsorship," Tinkov said.

"I don't know as owner of the team if I will be able to find a substitution sponsor in Europe. Most likely, I will not, and I will have to shut down the team."

Tinkov made the comment as the continuation of his argument that the sanctions are a bad idea and will hurt the countries imposing them as much as Russia.

"If you push us [the Russians], eventually 80 people in Europe [Tinkoff employees] will lose their job because of the sanction.

"I have 80 employees on high salaries from Denmark to Spain, with 14 nationalities, because of me, and of Tinkoff bank in Russia."

Tinkov also claimed Contador could win all three grand tours in 2015 - the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and Vuelta a Espana - and insisted the Spaniard would do it cleanly.

Cycling is struggling with yet another doping controversy with Astana under suspicion but Tinkov was keen to emphasise his impressive history since getting involved with his team - first as a sponsor, then as an owner - five years ago.

"I never ever had any doping cases in my team," the Russian businessman said.

"None. Zero. Nil."

Michael Rogers missed a few months of competitive action at the beginning of 2014 after testing positive to Clenbuterol but the Australian was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing after claiming he ingested the drug via contaminated meat in China.

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