By Katharina Schulz and Susan Westemeyer
Rabobank partly confirms, 'no-comment' until Monday
Team Rabobank has responded to Michael Rasmussen's statements concerning the situation leading up to his dismissal, saying it will wait until an independent report is released on Monday. Rasmussen has admitted having lied about his whereabouts leading up to the Tour de France, which made him miss an out-of-competition doping test, but said that the team management knew that he was in Europe in June. Rabobank took Rasmussen out of the Tour de France in July and fired him, saying the team management thought he was in Mexico.
Henri van der Aat, the interim team manager, partly confirmed Rasmussen's version. "The team management knew that he was not in Mexico the entire time in June. We knew that already. But if it is true that he was not there at all, then it is clear that [former team manager] Theo de Rooij was right to dismiss him. We will see what the commission has to say about that on Monday."
De Rooij, who had been with the team 12 years, stepped down this summer in light of the Rasmussen affair. A team statement issued at the time said, "After the disappointments of the most recent Tour de France, De Rooij wishes to have the time and rest to consider the future. Rabobank understands and respects this decision."
Van der Aat denied Rasmussen's claim that the team had offered to give him the report early. "That we promised this to him is the first lie," Van der Aart said. "We have agreed with his lawyer that we will give it to him Monday at 9 a.m."
The Danish rider had also claimed that sport director Erik Breukink knew that he was in Italy and France and even met with him in Bergamo, Italy. Breukink responded, "I will wait until Monday as we have agreed. It does not seem wise to me for everyone to speak out now."
UCI to open diciplinary case
The head of the UCI's antidoping unit, Anne Gripper, thinks it possible that Michael Rasmussen faces a two-year suspension for giving false information about his whereabouts in June this year. Confronted with yesterday's statement from Rasmussen while on her way back from a holiday in Australia, she told the Danish news agency Ritzau, "It's good he finally said it."
The antidoping unit had been looking into the case for a while, and they also tried to get a statement from Rasmussen: "I expect we are now going to open a disciplinary case against him. We have been investigating the case and had made several appointments with Rasmussen and his lawyer, but for different reasons they were cancelled. Now a meeting with him has become unnecessary."
Unlike Rasmussen himself, Gripper thinks the existing rules form a basis on which he could be suspended. "In the course of the investigation we have looked at which antidoping rules are relevant in this case. We are going to comment on that this week. After this confession it is likely that we are going to go for a breach of the rule about 'avoiding a test', which generally results in two years' suspension."
Blood values suspicious according to CSC's Damsgaard
The Danish newspaper B.T. showed the blood profiles which Michael Rasmussen published yesterday at his press conference in Hellerup to doping expert Rasmus Damsgaard. He is the man in charge of CSC's antidoping programme.
In his opinion, the blood values are suspicious. During the Tour de France, Rasmussen's haemoglobin values rose, which, according to Damsgaard, is unusual: "The haemoglobin values of the seven CSC riders [taking part in the Tour de France] dropped by 12 to 22 percent, which is completely normal. That the opposite happens, that the values rise during a hard race like the Tour de France, indicates that there has been a blood transfusion.
"We conclude that an increase in haemoglobin alone should be sanctionable."
Danish federation unhappy
The head of the Danish Cycling Federation (Dansk Cykle Union, DCU), Jesper Worre, is not very pleased with the extent of Michael Rasmussen's statement.
"It's not really much use, since he doesn't elaborate anything at all," he told DR Sporten. "But there is not really any excuse for delivering wrong whereabouts, otherwise the system wouldn't work."
Worre sees Rasmussen's biggest problem, however, in the fact that he lied to the UCI. "He has more than just one credibility issue, for he also has a problem with the UCI which has to open a case. I can't see that they have other options, because he deliberately delivered wrong whereabouts, and that is tampering with where he was," Worre concluded.