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By Andrew Hood
Troubles for Michael Rasmussen aren’t over yet. The Danish climbing specialist could face a two-year ban after lying about his whereabouts ahead of this year’s Tour de France.
Rabobank fired Rasmussen while leading the 2007 Tour with just days to go following inconsistencies about where he was in the weeks ahead of the race.
On Thursday, UCI president Pat McQuaid told VeloNews that Rasmussen’s lies could come back to haunt him and insisted that latest admissions fall short.
“We are considering sanctions. If he lied, to me that’s the same as a positive in a doping offense,” McQuaid said during a break at the World Anti-Doping Conference in Madrid. “For him to lie about something as fundamental as his whereabouts is very serious.”
Rasmussen, 33, went public last week stating he was in Europe after previously declaring he was in Mexico in key dates between the Giro d’Italia and the Tour in what’s an important window for out-of-competition tests ahead of the season’s most important race.
Rasmussen admitted he lied, but said it was for personal reasons and insisted that Rabobank officials knew about it all along.
On Monday, Rabobank officials released their version of events in as part of an internal investigation and defended their decision to fire the two-time winner of the Tour’s best climber’s jersey. Rasmussen is also reportedly considering suing Rabobank.
On Tuesday, Rasmussen met with UCI official Anne Gripper and a UCI attorney to try to clear the air with cycling’s governing body, but for McQuaid, the gesture comes too late.
McQuaid said UCI officials are currently collecting information to forward to the Monaco cycling federation, where Rasmussen holds his racing license. He said the UCI will press for sanctions and said he expects a dossier to be sent to Monaco officials in the coming weeks.
“If he does get sanctioned, his career is over,” McQuaid said. “He didn’t play fair.”
McQuaid also defended the UCI’s attitude over the “Rasmussen affair” and said there wasn’t enough information ahead of the Tour to keep him from starting the Tour.
“Based on what we knew then, we couldn’t have kept him out of the Tour,” McQuaid said. “Based on the new evidence that’s come forward now, the team was right to do what they did.”