By Brecht Decaluwé in Pau, France
After a week full of rumours and speculation on the credibility of Michael Rasmussen, the rider and his Rabobank team tried to dissolve the dark clouds that have gathered over the Danish cyclist during a rest-day press conference in Pau. Rasmussen stepped into the press room together with his team manager, Theo De Rooy, and lawyer Harro Knijff - signaling intentions of dealing with the accusations seriously. The accusation is that Rasmussen has been careless in informing the UCI of his whereabouts in the past two years and as a result the media had doubts on the credibility of the Danish rider.
The Dane, affectionately known as Chicken, started by admitting he made an administrative mistake. "I accept it and take full responsibility for that," Rasmussen declared. "I'm sorry that it is now during the Tour de France and I'm sorry that it harms cycling, the sport I love and also [Tour de France organizer] ASO."
Before digging into the accusations and warnings, lets rewind to the start of events that have lead to this moment. Back in March, 2006 Rasmussen was too late in providing his movements schedule for the second part of the 2006 season to the UCI. Another issue is that the Danish federation claims Rasmussen missed an out-of-competition test on May 6, 2007, afterwards correcting that date to April 6 and adding another missed test on June 21, 2007. Finally in June 2007 Rasmussen was again careless with sending his whereabouts schedule to the UCI, according to the claims.
During the press conference the technical details were provided by Rabobank's lawyer Knijff. He confirmed that Rasmussen made a mistake by not informing the UCI in time on his whereabouts for June 2007, explaining that he received a so-called 'recorded warning' in a letter on June 29. Knijff added that a similar letter for the same offence, but in the second half of 2006, had also been received however neither Rasmussen or Rabobank ever received a official warning for that incident, with the Dutch lawyer claiming it was only a written warning without consequences.
To read the full story on Rasmussen's press conference, click here.