Michael Rasmussen deliberately misled the UCI regarding his whereabouts prior to the Tour de France, and should not have been allowed to start the Tour, an independent inquiry decided. The 48 page report compiled by the independent Vogelzang Committee set up by Rabobank was released on Monday, and in part two of a two part series Cyclingnews' Susan Westemeyer breaks down the facts.
(Part two continues from Rasmussen's deceit in detail - part one.)
The Rabobank Team
Michael Rasmussen was not the only one at fault, the Vogelzang committee found. Both Team Rabobank and the UCI came in for their share of attention in the report. The team has an elaborate structure, with a Supervisory Board, which oversees the Board of Directors. The Chairman of the Board, usually referred to as the team manager, was Theo de Rooij up until the end of July 2007.
The team has equally elaborate rules affecting different issues, as well as a "disaster scenario," which details who is to notify whom and at what point "in the event of a disaster. The plan focuses on, among other things, riders who become seriously compromised," such as through a positive doping control.
The team and the sponsor have a very strict doping policy: "an absolute zero tolerance policy ... This policy is an absolute condition, as well as an absolute commitment on the part of Rabobank and Rabo Wielerploegen B.V. to achieving the sport's objective of fostering a responsible and drug-free sports environment."
Such a statement is usually followed by a "however" clause, and this one is no exception, as the committee found, "the team management was insufficiently aware of the significance of the whereabouts policy." In addition, "the UCI, upon the implementation of the whereabouts policy, indirectly gave the impression that it did not take the policy particularly seriously. The committee further noted that the Rabobank riders, partly as a result of the UCI's relaxed attitude, were insufficiently aware of the necessity to provide very specific whereabouts information."
Much of the committee's report on the team deals with the question of who told who what and when, at various points. It faults the Board of Directors for allowing Rasmussen to start the Tour de France despite evidence of missed tests, saying the board "based its actions entirely on the response from the UCI that Rasmussen would be allowed to start and in doing so failed to calculate the reputation of Rabobank as sponsor and a cycling team in its deliberations regarding whether Rasmussen should be allowed to start in the Tour."
According to the report, "The Board of Directors consequently incorrectly failed to investigate the facts prior to the Tour and neglected its duty to inform the Supervisory Board regarding any of the facts. It is the opinion of the committee that this constitutes negligence both vis-à-vis the Board of Directors' own responsibility and vis-à-vis Rabobank's interests.