Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Become a Member

Get access to more than 30 brands, premium video, exclusive content, events, mapping, and more.

Already have an account? Sign In

Brands

Rabobank officials stand by their man

The Dutch Rabobank team has declared its support for its captain Michael Rasmussen, who is only days away from what could be a controversial victory in the Tour de France. Rasmussen has been under suspicion of doping since the Danish Cycling Union(DCU) revealed he had been given formal warnings for missing two random controls run by the Danish anti-doping agency earlier this year.

Don't miss a moment from Paris-Roubaix and Unbound Gravel, to the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, Vuelta a España, and everything in between when you join Outside+.

By Agence France Presse

Rasmussen waves off reporters' question on Tuesday

Rasmussen waves off reporters’ question on Tuesday

Photo: Agence France Presse

The Dutch Rabobank team has declared its support for its captain Michael Rasmussen, who is only days away from what could be a controversial victory in the Tour de France.

Rasmussen has been under suspicion of doping since the Danish Cycling Union(DCU) revealed he had been given formal warnings for missing two random controls run by the Danish anti-doping agency earlier this year.

The DCU decided to ban the 33-year-old from representing Denmark, and it later emerged he had already been warned twice by the UCI for missing two other tests over the past 18 months. Under existing rules, riders missing three or more such tests are subject to suspension, as if a doping violation had occurred. The fact that only two violations occurred under each organizations’ jurisdiction means that he is not subject to such a suspension. Doping officials say that loophole will be closed by year’s end.

Rabobank manager Theo de Rooy admitted he was aware of the missed tests, but, flanked by a recently-hired lawyer, he launched into a full volley of legal arguments.

He said he was fully within his rights not to suspend Rasmussen from Rabobank’s Tour squad, despite the race’s strict code of ethics on cheats as well as suspected riders.

The Dutchman also claimed he fined Rasmussen 10,000 Euros for the missed tests, and that added that Rasmussen has been unfairly targeted.

“I informed the UCI about the missed tests prior to the Tour de France, and UCI president Pat McQuaid has said that they could not prevent Michael Rasmussen from racing on the Tour,” said De Rooy. “For me, there is no case to answer.”

De Rooy appeared to take a shot at both the DCU and the UCI for revealing the news about the missed tests, which Rasmussen has qualified “administrative errors.”

“First of all, the principle of strict confidentiality is very important. And I feel the sporting authorities have not respected this rule,” De Rooy said, “but we can guarantee that we have no doubts over Michael. He has undergone doping controls prior to the Tour, which were all negative.

“We also carried out an internal (team) test on him the Tuesday before the Tour and there was nothing to evoke suspicion. That is why, despite the missed tests, we decided there was no reason he should not come to the Tour de France.”

It appears that Rabobank has the law on its side, but it may be losing a bigger battle in the court of public opinion.

Beijing or no?
Meanwhile, the president of the Danish Olympic committee (DIF), Niels Nygaard, on Tuesday disputed the DCU’s declaration that Rasmussen has been excluded from the 2008 Olympic Games.

“We have not ruled out Rasmussen, and the Danish Cycling Federation (DCU) were too quick to say he will not participate at the 2008 Beijing Games,” Nygaard told AFP.

The DCU decided in June not to select Rasmussen for September’s world cycling championships and the Olympic Games in 2008 because of his missed out-of-competition doping tests.

“The DCU was not in a position to decide on our behalf and they had not discussed the issue with us before making their announcement,” Nygaard said.

Nygaard added DIF would be meeting with the DCU “in due course” but emphasized the Olympic panel did not have to follow the federation’s recommendations.