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Vogelzang Committee: Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) should never have started in the Tour de France ... [UPDATE]

Added: tuesday 13 November 2007 at 1:11:00
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    Vogelzang Committee: Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) should never have started in the Tour de France ... [UPDATE]After Michael Rasmussen's confession last Thursday in Denmark, today the Vogelzang committee published her 48 pages report about his case ...

    UPDATE 17 November 2007: added new information on a court case/settlement proposed by Rasmussen, Rasmussen's blood analysis, reaction Erik Breukink and technical gadgets for the cycling team (see here).

    What happened before?
    Michael Rasmussen was wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour de France when a Danish TV reporter heard something strange on the Italian TV. Davide Cassani, a former professional cyclist and now consultant for the Italian TV during the Tour, told live on Rai TV that he admired Rasmussen's courage and willingness to win because he saw him training in Italy in June while it was raining.

    The Danish TV reporter who heard that thougt that was strange since he knew that Michael Rasmussen declared (in his 'whereabouts' he was obliged to communicate to the UCI) that he was in Mexico for training at that time. When he asked Rasmussen about this, he continued to say he was in Mexico.

    Under the pressure of the French media, the organisation of the Tour de France and some other teams, Theo de Rooij, at that time general director of the Rabobank cycling team, decided to ask Rasmussen to leave the Tour de France. A few days later, Rasmussen was fired by his team because he had broken the rules of his team.

    A few days after the Tour de France, Theo de Rooij resigned and Rabobank asked an independent committee to find out what exactly happened and how that could happen.

    This independent committee, led by Peter Vogelzang - a former police commissioner and now chef de mission of the Dutch Olympic Team - today published its report ... In the meantime however (last Thursday), Michael Rasmussen organised a press conference as well.

    Michael Rasmussen wearing the yellow jersey during the Tour de France 2007 - 21 July 2007, finish time trial in Albi
    Michael Rasmussen wearing the yellow jersey during the Tour de France 2007 - 21 July 2007, finish time trial in Albi

    During this pressconference Rasmussen admitted he lied about his whereabouts in June this year. He confirmed he had not been in Mexico but in France and Italy ... and according to him his team was aware of this!
    He also told he didn't lie about that in order to be unavailable for unannounced doping checks, but because he had personal problems (with his wife). He asked the press to respect his privacy and not to ask any further questions about that ...
    Finally Rasmussen declared he didn't use any forbidden products, espacially mentioning EPO and Dynepo.

    Today the Vogelzang Committee published its findings ... According to the committee the team direction should never have allowed Michael Rasmussen to start in the Tour de France. The committee says that the direction of 'Rabo Wielerploegen' and especially its manager Theo de Rooij underestimated several signals they had around Rasmussen before the Tour '07 and that - by not completely and timely informing Rabo Wielerploegen's board of commissioners - the direction put Rabo Wielerploegen's and Rabobank's reputation at risk. The committee recommends Rabo Wielerploegen to improve the collection, administration and verification of the information about the WhereAbouts of its riders.

    The UCI (International Cycling Union) also got criticised by the Vogelzang Committee: she did not act enough in an unambiguous, vigorous and credible way and should adopt a more professional approach on the wording, enforcement and verification of its doping rules.

    Concerning Michael Rasmussen the committee says it doesn't think the private matter he came up with as a reason for his lies is a credible explanation.

    Next to Peter Vogelzang, Marjan Olfers, Gijs Langevoort and Johan Geraets also had a seat in this committee.

    Reacting on Committee Vogelzang's report, the Rabobank (the bank and sponsor of the cycling team) and especially Piet van Schijndel (member of Rabobank's board of directors and responsible for sponsoring in cycling) told they agree with the conclusions and recommendations of the committee.
    The cycling team says it first wants to study the report throughly before they react on it and come up with some measures they will take from now. They also underline that the direction has never been aware of the fact that Rasmussen has never been to Mexico and lied about that because of a private matter.
    Erik Breukink however did tell in the NOS Journaal on Dutch TV that the incorrect dates (UCI told them Rasmussen was in Mexico since June 4 while Erik spoke to him on June 6) didn't make them suspicious at that time; when they received the recorded warning on June 23 Theo de Rooij asked UCI what that meant and they said that Rasmussen could start in the Tour anyway ...

    Rasmussen - without work since his dismissal by Rabobank - might risk a two year suspension according to Anne Gripper, responsible for UCI's anti doping programme.

    UPDATE 17 November 2007:
    - Court case / Settlement
    Michael Rasmussen, assisted by the Danish lawyer Karoly Nemeth, announced he will start a court case against Rabo Wielerploegen because the team fired him without a valid reason (according to him the cycling team was aware of the fact he was lying) and because he's "been waiting for 3 months now for an answer on his settlement proposal".
    Henri van der Aat, the cycling team's interim-manager, announced he wasn't aware of such a proposal and told he regretted to get to know such information by reading the newspapers ...

    - Rasmussen's blood analysis
    In an attempt to prove he didn't use doping Michael Rasmussen published the results of his blood analysis. The information he published contains 24 hematocrit- and hemoglobin-values from blood tests in the past three years. All values are under the tolerated maximum values.
    According to Rasmussen this proves that he never used doping (or at least in those three years), but Rasmus Damsgaard, a Danish expert on doping, analysed these values and comes to another conclusion: according to him Rasmussen did have a blood transfusion during the Tour or followed an EPO cure just before the Tour. Damsgaard says the increase of 3.6% in his hematocrit value and 1,1 gram per deciliter for his hemoglobin value is 'suspect', 'physiologically impossible' and scientifically impossible to explain in another way than that Rasmussen used doping ... These values normally decrease during a big Tour (7 riders of the CSC Team - followed by Damsgaard - for example showed a decrease of 12 to 22 percent) and this was also the case for Rasmussen during the Tour in 2005 and 2006 ... Dion van Bommel, Rabobank's team doctor says in the Dutch newspaper "De Volkskrant" he cannot conclude that Rasmussen used doping but that this increase indeed is 'not logical' ... According to him those varying values can indeed raise doubt but cannot lead to accusations. Probably one of those discussions we'll see a lot once the biological passport will be mandatory for riders?!

    - Erik Breukink's reaction
    In a reaction on the committee's report Erik Breukink says in "De Volkskrant" he's the scapegoat of this case ... the committee's comments on his way of working are 'too easy and not necessarily justified'. He says: "I don't want to say I didn't do anything wrong, but I don't want people to think I had an active role in Rasmussen's messing around.".

    - Technical gadgets for the Rabobank riders
    According to an article in the BN/DeStem newspaper the Rabobank riders will soon all get a Blackberry (a phone with a full QWERTY-keyboard which is especially useful to receive and send e-mails) so they can always indicate where they are, what they plan to do and to indicate any last-minute changes.

    The team's interim manager, Van der Aat, agreed with UCI that the information about the whereabouts the riders send them will now be sent to the team for verification.

    by Thomas Vergouwen
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    this article appears in the following categories: Tour de France 2007| Doping| Tour de France | share on Facebook | delicious | twitter | Google | technorati

Comments

Currently 2 comments!
  1. Oui cela est bien compliqué ,il y a eu des erreurs commises de part et d autre et ce sont des lecons pour le futur mais en tout cas j admire le courage de la direction du Tour qui fait le maximum pour eradiquer le dopage et on ne peut que les en féliciter .ciao byebye a+

    | Liserois | thursday 15 November 2007 at 17:47:08

  2. k ben erg teleurgesteld in de leiding van de wielerploeg.
    Wij zijn er van uit gegaan in Nederland dat Thomas Dekker voor ons de tour zou winnen.
    De leiding van de ploeg heeft hier gefaald. De keuze voor een rus was niet de juiste.
    Ik vermoed dat het spelletje dat er gespeeld is is opgezet en dat Breuking voor Mensjov was.
    Dit is een niet te vergeven fout verder denk ik dat met Tomas Dekker niets aan de hand is.
    En de ploegleiding een excuus heeft verzonnen om Dekker thuis te laten.
    Als is er iets aan de hand was met Dekkers bloed zou hij wel een startverbod of een schorsing hebben gekregen Ik denk dat Dekker er op gestaan heeft om als kopman mee te gaan.
    En de ploeg dit niet wilde, hun keuze was Mentsjov, en zoals altijd heeft hij er niets van gemaakt.
    Dus de verkeerde keuze. Als je kijk hoe vaak de ploegleiding zich vergist heeft wordt het tijd dat daar eens koppen rollen. Waarschijnlijk wordt Dekker volgend jaar tourwinnaar, heel wat ploegen zitten op hem te wachten. Alleen erg jammer dat het dan een Belgische ploeg wordt.
    En weer staat Rabobank dan met lede ogen te kijken,
    groetjes J.A. Bergmans

    | John Bergmans | thursday 14 August 2008 at 17:34:30

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