Michael Rasmussen has criticised the handling of the Alberto Contador affair and decried the disciplinary systems currently in place in cycling. The controversial Danish rider was removed from the 2007 Tour de France while wearing the yellow jersey after it emerged that he had deliberately misled drug testers as to his whereabouts in the build-up to the race. Contador went on to inherit the vacant jersey and win his first Tour.
Fuglsang angry at Rasmussen claiming credit for success
“[The Contador case] is another example of the failure of the system,” Rasmussen told De Pers. “If you can be suspended and stripped of your yellow jersey by food contamination, then something is wrong. The doping justice system leaves no room for logic and humanity. In normal society, the prosecutor must prove that you are guilty. In sport it’s the opposite: an athlete must prove his innocence.
“I would prefer a system that let a couple of guilty riders slip through rather than run a system that punished the innocent. I am innocent but I still get punished.”
Rasmussen received a two-year suspension after he missed two anti-doping controls carried out by the Danish Cycling Federation and one by the UCI (International Cycling Union) in 2007. He continues to deny that he was involved in any kind of doping practices, saying that the only mistake he made was lying on his whereabouts form.
“I gave the wrong information about my whereabouts, nothing more,” Rasmussen claimed. “But usually you only get a warning for that. They interpreted the rules in their own way for me.”
Under UCI and WADA rules, missing three out-of-competition tests incurs a suspension. In June 2007, Rasmussen informed testers that he was in Mexico, even though he was in fact training in Italy at the time.
Rasmussen returned to racing in July 2009 but has been unable to find a place on a team with an invitation to the Grand Tours. He believes that he is paying a higher price for his past indiscretions than other riders.
“Last year I agreed a contract with Flaminia, but that was torn up and a week later they turned to Riccardo Riccò,” Rasmussen said. “I have letters from the UCI at home saying that I can ride anywhere I want, but it doesn’t happen. It’s extremely frustrating.
“Whether I’ve been right or wrong in the past, I’ve served my sentence. I’ve paid my price. But I’m still not back in a big team.”
Rasmussen is currently competing on the Danish version of Dancing with the Stars but has been rumoured to be on Saxo Bank’s radar for next season. “I want to finish my career like I ought to, in the big races,” the 36-year-old said. “Saxo Bank would be the ideal team for me, but Riis has something else on his mind for now. He has the whole team for next season hanging on one man: Contador.”
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Barry Ryan is European Editor at Cyclingnews. He has covered professional cycling since 2010, reporting from the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and events from Argentina to Japan. His writing has appeared in The Independent, Procycling and Cycling Plus. He is the author of The Ascent: Sean Kelly, Stephen Roche and the Rise of Irish Cycling’s Golden Generation (opens in new tab), published by Gill Books.