UCI President Pat McQuaid has denied suggestions that the UCI influenced the Ceramica Flaminia team not to sign Danish rider Michael Rasmussen to the team. Speaking to Cyclingnews on Saturday, the Irishman said that claims by Rasmussen that he was on a ‘black list’ were untrue, as were suggestions by the team director Giuseppe Petito that the UCI’s ProTour manager Alain Rumpf put pressure on the team not to sign the climber.
“The exact situation is that Michael Rasmussen is free to go to any team that is prepared to take him,” said McQuaid. “Neither Alain Rumpf nor anybody else in the UCI has spoken to the manager of Ceramica Flaminia and told him that he shouldn’t take Michael Rasmussen. That is a complete misinterpretation of the facts.”
The-then Rabobank rider was leading the 2007 Tour de France when he was forced to withdraw from the race by his team. Evidence had emerged which proved he had deliberately misled the UCI as to his whereabouts before the race; he claimed to be in Mexico, but former pro Davide Cassani stated that he saw him training in the Italian Dolomites during the period in question. Rasmussen had also missed a number of out-of-competition controls.
He finally admitted lying about his location but claimed that Rabobank was fully aware of his whereabouts, and was therefore wrong to dismiss him. He won substantial damages in a court action taken against his former team, while an appeal against his two year ban was thrown out by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Rasmussen is currently involved in another action with CAS, appealing against the UCI’s demands that he must pay a year’s salary as per the ‘Commitment to a New Cycling’ document he signed prior to the 2007 Tour.
The governing body had originally said that both he and Alexandre Vinokourov could not return to racing until the fine was paid. It later stated that it would allow them to race until the appeal ruling was known; the Dane finished second in the Designa Grand Prix on July 28th.
McQuaid said on Saturday that Rasmussen is not being discriminated against. “There is no black list in the UCI, there never has been and never will be,” he said, responding to claims by the 35-year-old. “As an institution, we couldn’t operate along those lines. So any allegations by Michael Rasmussen along those lines is completely erroneous.”