Alex Rasmussen pledges not to retire after being given 18 month ban over whereabouts violations
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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Alex Rasmussen pledges not to retire after being given 18 month ban over whereabouts violations

by Shane Stokes at 9:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
“I feel terrible, everything is destroyed. I won’t give up.”

Alex RasmussenAlex Rasmussen has pledged to return to the sport after a long battle over anti-doping violations came to an end today, and the rider was handed a partially-backdated eighteen month ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The decision related to the three whereabouts violations committed by the rider between February 1st 2010 and April 28th 2011, which under WADA rules can result in a lengthy ban. He will be unable to compete until April 2013.

Fired by the HTC Highroad team last September when the news of his three missed tests became known, the UCI requested that Rasmussen be sanctioned over the violations, which prevented testers from carrying out out of competition testing on him.

The Anti-Doping Committee of the Danish National Olympic Committee heard the case, but decided on November 17th that it would clear him due to a considerable delay on the UCI’s part in notifying the rider of the three violation.

The UCI appealed this to CAS last December, which has now sided with the governing body.

The court announced its ruling today, saying that while the UCI had committed a mistake, that it didn’t warrant dropping the case. “The CAS ruled that the procedural mistake (delay in communications) did not change the fact that an anti-doping test was missed by Alex Rasmussen after he had committed two other failures for which he had received proper notice,” it stated.

“Accordingly, the CAS has partially upheld UCI's appeal and has imposed a suspension of eighteen months on the rider, commencing on 1 October 2011 (less the period of the provisional suspension that he has already served). Furthermore, the results achieved by Alex Rasmussen in the period from 28 April 2011 to 14 September 2011 (start date of his provisional suspension) will not be disqualified.”

Speaking after the decision, Rasmussen said that he was very disappointed by the ruling, and indicated that he would not retire.

“I have put all cards on the table, but my lawyer informed me that they thought that I had made a gross violation of the whereabouts system,” he told Ekstrabladet.dk.

“I do not understand that they do not take into account that the UCI has also made mistakes in this matter.”

His lawyer Asser Gregersen had told tv2sport.dk in February that the UCI’s push for a two year ban was unfair in this regard.

“WADA's rules say that when you are not where we should have been, then you need to be told within fourteen days, so you have the opportunity to explain yourself,” explained Gregersen. “The UCI has not done this in Alex's case, they waited ten weeks to contact Alex.

He argued that it was essentially hypocritical of the UCI to pursue Rasmussen because he didn’t comply with the rules, while also feeling that a different set of rules didn’t apply to it.

Background to the case:

Rasmussen’s first whereabouts violation happened on February 1st 2010, when an unsuccessful attempt at carrying out a doping control led to a warning by Anti-Doping Denmark, dated February 16th.

The second incident took place in October of 2010, when his whereabouts information was submitted late. He was warned again by ADD in a letter dated October 26th. The third incident was on April 28th of last year when there was a failed attempt at a doping control. This led to a warning by the UCI, but that warning was only communicated in a letter dated August 18th. This broke the UCI’s own regulations in terms of the timescale necessary in anti-doping procedures.

The UCI then requested action by the Danish federation on September 13th, but the latter decided on November 17th that it would clear him.

Torben Jessen, president of the Danish Sports Federation's doping tribunal, explained the reason. “[The case against] Alex Rasmussen is dismissed because his third violation of the whereabouts rules were notified too late and thus there is no longer any case. The UCI took ten weeks to report the infringement to the athlete, while the international standard dictates a deadline of fourteen days.”

CAS’s full ruling explained its response to that.

'The Panel finds that a period of eighteen months is the appropriate measure of ineligibility for the First Respondent, proportional to his degree of fault. On one side, the Panel notes that the behaviour of Rasmussen shows a patent disregard of his whereabouts obligations, commanding a sanction much higher than the minimum stipulated by Article 10.3.3 NADR: the missed tests for which he is responsible were in fact due not to unexpected occurrences, but to circumstances (participation in a competition in Germany or attendance at the sister's confirmation in Denmark) which had been scheduled in advance, and therefore had left him with sufficient time to keep his whereabouts information updated; the filing failure concerning the fourth quarter of 2010 was explained by an oversight (amounting to carelessness).

'On the other hand, the Panel remarks that there is no suggestion (let alone evidence) that Rasmussen committed the whereabouts failures, for which he is held responsible, in order to hide from testing and undergo a doping practice. For instance, when the first missed test occurred, on 1 February 2010, Rasmussen was publicly competing in Berlin, available for any form of doping control; then, on 28 April 2011, his location could be immediately traced. A sanction lower than the maximum therefore appears to be proportionate.
'

Rasmussen pledges to continue in the sport. “I feel terrible, everything is destroyed. I don’t know what I can do now,” he stated today. “They can take all my points and results from me, but I must be allowed to race again. I won’t give up, I will continue. I won’t end my career now.”

He previously insisted that he has been careless rather than anything more serious, and that the issue is nothing to do with doping.

Rasmussen had signed a contract with Garmin-Sharp prior to the news of his whereabouts violations and once he was cleared, the team said that it was contractually bound to keep him. That obligation is no longer in place and the team is expected to announce its position on the matter shortly.
 

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