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Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)
Dane claims he's been blacklisted
Dane Michael Rasmussen is alleging that he is on cycling's "black list" after the Italian team Ceramica Flaminia decided against a contract offer.
The former Rabobank rider was kicked out of the 2007 Tour de France while in the race lead over problems with his whereabouts declarations to anti-doping authorities.
Rasmussen served a two-year ban for violating anti-doping rules. The suspension ended on July 25, 2009. The International Cycling Union (UCI) said that it would "not oppose" his return to cycling.
However, Ceramica Flaminia team director Giuseppe Petito said the UCI advised against signing Rasmussen. "We had been speaking with Michael Rasmussen since May, and we were ready to enter an agreement, but UCI wasn't too keen on it," Petito told the Danish daily Ekstra Bladet.
Rasmussen and admitted doper Bernhard Kohl previously shared a manager, Stefan Matschiner. Austrian investigators have named Rasmussen in an investigation of organised blood doping that was facilitated by Matschiner.
"We asked Alain Rumpf [UCI ProTour manager] if there could be problems if we signed a contract with Rasmussen, and he emphasised the Austrian matter. The contract is therefore no longer a possibility," said Petito.
Rasmussen denied blood doping, and blamed his inability to secure a contract on a black list. "I have heard of a black list going around in the sport, which lists the names of unwanted riders. This more than suggests that this list actually exists, and my name is on it," said Rasmussen.
Ceramica Flaminia press officer, Livio Iacovella, told Cyclingnews the team decided against Rasmussen because it had already signed Riccardo Riccò last month. The UCI didn't contact the team, he added.
Riccò is currently on suspension for testing positive for EPO CERA during the 2008 Tour de France and will join the team in 2010.
Translation courtesy Greg Lewin.