Michael Rasmussen has lost his appeal against Rabobank for wrongful dismissal during the 2007 Tour de France. The Dane was removed from the race and fired from the team while wearing the yellow jersey after it emerged that he had lied about his whereabouts to drug testers in the build-up to the Tour.
Rasmussen took legal action against Rabobank while serving a two-year suspension for his whereabouts violations. In 2008, a court in Utrecht found that there had not been sufficient grounds for dismissal and Rasmussen was awarded €665,000 in damages.
Both parties subsequently appealed the Utrecht finding, with Ramussen seeking to obtain as much as €5.6 million in compensation from Rabobank for lost earnings. The Dane claimed that the team had been aware of his false whereabouts before the Tour and long before it took action against him during the final week.
However, the appeal court in Arnhem found in favour of Rabobank on Tuesday morning and has ordered Rasmussen to repay a sizeable part of the €665,000 that were paid out to him in the first instance.
“It is disappointing to say the least,” Rasmussen’s lawyer Andrú Brantjes told De Telegraaf. “I have been talking all morning with Michael, he is completely broken. We did not expect this. It is incredible and incomprehensible.”
In January of this year, Rasmussen confessed to doping from 1998 to 2010, a twelve-year spell which included his time at Rabobank and CSC. The Dane said he used EPO, growth hormone, testosterone, insulin, DHEA, IGF-1, cortisone and underwent blood transfusions.
However, according to De Telegraaf, Rasmussen’s confession is not believed to have had an effect on the verdict in his case against Rabobank. “The court emphasises that this case concerns the validity of Rabobank’s dismissal of Rasmussen on July 26, 2007,” read the written judgement. Rasmussen must decide within the next three months if he is to appeal the matter further and bring the case to the supreme court.
Rabobank withdrew as title sponsor of the team in October 2012, citing cycling’s ongoing doping problems. The Dutch bank continued to finance the squad this year, until it secured a new sponsor, Belkin, ahead of the Tour de France.