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Prudhomme calls press conference on Rasmussen

Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank)

Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) (Image credit: AFP Photo)

By Gregor Brown in Montpellier

In light of the fact that the Danish federation has kicked current yellow jersey, Michael Rasmussen, out of the national team, Tour director Christian Prudhomme called an impromptu press conference in Montpellier at 10:30 this morning. The start of the meeting with the media got delayed for more than 45 minutes and didn't get underway until 11:20.

Prudhomme informed the press that the Danish federation was unable to find Michael Rasmussen for doping tests on May 8 and June 28, 2007, despite a program in place where riders need to always let the national federations know if they travel and where they can be reached.

Prudhomme continued that on June 29, Anne Gripper, the anti-doping director of the UCI, informed Michael Rasmussen that if he missed a third test it would be considered a non-negative test.

The director of the Tour questioned the timing of releasing the news of events that have happened in June. "Why now, on July 19?" Prudhomme asked, and wondered "is there any more information available now than on July 1? The Danish Federaton had cleared him to ride the Danish Championships [then] and [without any more information] Rasmussen will be able to start today's stage."

The head of the Tour also listed the recent conducted tests of the Rabobank rider. "He had a blood test on June 30," which was a day before the Danish championships as well as on July 5th, when all Tour teams were tested. Additional blood controls were conducted on July 17 and the Dane had also a string of urine tests, on July 15, 17, 18 and 19.

Prudhomme elaborated that "WADA, the UCI and the team [Rabobank] have the results already, but we as the organisers of the Tour de France are still waiting for the results."

Michael Rasmussen was suspected by some to be one of the "Men in Black". The Dane admits that he sometimes doesn't train in the Rabobank outfit, but says his jersey of choice is blue. He lives near Lago di Garda in Italy, but sometimes trains in the high altitudes of Mexico, where his wife is from.

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