By Katharina Schulz and Susan Westemeyer
Michael Rasmussen thinks that Team Rabobank unfairly fired him, and is getting tired of waiting to hear from the team that sacked the Danish rider after withdrawing him from the Tour de France. An independent committee this week concluded that Rasmussen had lied about his whereabouts in the time leading up to the Tour, and that the team was justified in firing him.
"We have two options," the Dane said in a press statement issued yesterday. "Either we come to an agreement or I go to court. I have already waited 100 days without an answer." Rasmussen's lawyer contested the committee's finding that the team did not know the whereabouts of the 33 year-old during the month of June, calling this "absurd", according to HLN.
Meanwhile, Rasmussen has given the UCI new information about the month of June on Tuesday at a meeting at the federation's headquarters in Aigle, Switzerland. "Michael Rasmussen came forward with new information today, which we hadn't heard about so far, and we asked him to provide us with further details, so that we will be able to come to a decision some time next week as to what should happen next in this case," Anne Gripper, head of the UCI's anti-doping unit, told the Danish newspaper Politiken.
Rasmussen hopes that the information he gave to the UCI will help him to redeem himself, while he still refuses to publicly go into any detail about the reasons for his behaviour. "I have now given the UCI an account of those details which made me act the way I did. I have already said at the press conference a few days ago that I can't elaborate those details for private reasons, but I did so nevertheless for the Rabobank committee, and I hope that repeating them [to the UCI] has been in my interest," he said.
The Dane believes he has done all he can to shed light on the episode, and now waits for the UCI to act. "Now the UCI has to take the next step. The federation is going to evaluate the information I have provided them with, and I have no idea which direction it's going to take from here. Neither do I know how much time it will take before they reach a decision. But should it come so far that the UCI decides to conduct a doping case against me, then it's the federation in Monaco, where I have my license, that should actually conduct such a case."
The Danish federation (Dansk Cycle Union, DCU) is in any event "finished" with the 33 year-old climber, and will not include him in its national team any longer. "He is definitely finished in his role [on the national team]. With the Vogelzang report we have got proof that he deliberately tried to cheat. I must strongly condemn this," the DCU's head Tom Lund told Jyllandsposten.
Especially the fact that Rasmussen apparently tried to convince members of his wife's family in Mexico to fake letters to prove he was there, astounded Lund. "That is condemnable, if professional cycling is calling for credibility," he said.
Rasmussen himself did not seem overly worried about these statements. "The Danish federation's actions towards myself have been quite definite in themselves, so this mainly indicates a man who likes to hear himself speak," he told the Danish news agency Ritzau.
Rasmussen's career over in case of two-year ban?
The UCI is currently examining Rasmussen's case, and it is expected that they take a decision some time next week. It is not to be ruled out that Rasmussen faces a two-year ban. This could have far-reaching consequences for the 33 year-old.
"A two-year ban would mean a life sentence to me. Should that be the case, I would have ridden my last bike race, and that would be a bit paradoxical, since my last race was the queen stage in the Tour de France, a stage I won," he told B.T.
But there are also other possibilities: "It is also possible that I get a check which means that I simply won't have to work any more. There are many scenarios," Rasmussen said.