Alex Rasmussen Interview: Dane responds to 18 month whereabouts sanction
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Friday, July 06, 2012

Alex Rasmussen Interview: Dane responds to 18 month whereabouts sanction

by Ed Hood at 9:31 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Doping
 
Former Garmin-Sharp rider gives his thoughts on CAS ruling and being sidelined until April

Alex RasmussenOnce again, the rug has been pulled from under Alex Rasmussen’s feet.

Last season the 28 year-old Danish former multiple world track champion’s equilibrium was turned upside down when he was pulled out of the Tour of Britain by his HTC Highroad team when news broke that he had fallen foul of the UCI’s ‘three strikes’ policy on ‘whereabouts.’

But the Dane was able to continue riding through the winter and into the spring on appeal. The main thrust of the appeal was that the UCI had not informed Rasmussen of the third infringement within the statutory time period.

He completed the Giro for Garmin-Barracuda before the next bombshell dropped.

Earlier this week, whilst training with the Danish Olympic endurance track squad at altitude in Livigno, Northern Italy, he was informed that CAS had rejected his appeal, and had imposed an 18 month ban upon him, as opposed to the more usual 12 months for such an offence.

CAS maintained that whilst the UCI had been remiss with their late notification, it did not affect the fact that there had been three infringements and Rasmussen had to be punished

While some of the ban will run retrospectively and Rasmussen can return to racing next April, his dreams of another Olympic team pursuit medal to accompany his silver from Beijing have been shattered.

VeloNation spoke to Rasmussen in Livigno as he prepared to return to his home in Girona.

VeloNation: Alex, please start by reminding us of the infringements which lead to this situation.

Alex Rasmussen: When I rode for Saxo Bank in 2009/10 we had our own system for whereabouts, but then in 2011 the system changed to ADAMS (Anti-Doping & Management System) and I didn’t really fully understand it.

That was what caused the problem when I was riding in Berlin at the six days; I thought that you just updated the information – but you have to ‘submit,’ which I failed to do.

The second one came about because I was a day or two late submitting what we call our ‘quarters’ – that’s the information regarding where we’re going to be for the next three months.

The third one was my fault, I went back to Denmark from Girona and I forgot to update – no excuses.

VN: But wasn’t it the case that you were tested during the Berlin six day?

AR: Yes, I can’t remember if it was once or twice, but I was certainly tested.

VN: Does the UCI warn you when you are on two infringements?

AR: No, there’s nothing like that in place, you have to self-check.

VN: What was your lawyer’s view of your situation, prior to the hearing?

AR: Under WADA rules, because the UCI were so late in notifying me of the infringement – 10 or 12 weeks instead of two – it should have been discarded.

When this first broke it was like a bolt from the blue, during the Tour of Britain. Most other sports subscribe to the WADA codes – but the UCI doesn’t.

VN: What was his reaction after the hearing?

AR: He was shocked, particularly because they were extra hard and gave me 18 months instead of 12 – he certainly didn’t expect that.

VN: What recourse do you have now?

Alex RasmussenAR: I could go to the Swiss Civil Court – it’s not the financial aspect that’s my concern here, it’s the principle.

I was looking forward so much to the Olympics and now I can’t ride. Their timing on both occasions has been so bad for me – before the Worlds in Copenhagen and now, before the Olympics.

VN: The Danish Federation must be unhappy?

AR: They’re disappointed because the UCI hasn’t followed the WADA code and because it’s dragging on.

If they had disciplined me at the time they became aware of the infringements, I could have served a year’s ban and been back on my bike by now to ride the Olympics.

VN: How have things been with the team?

AR: They had to end my contract – that’s obvious, those are the rules. But JV and the management have treated me very well; I hope to stay in contact with them.

VN: How have the Danish media been?

AR: Generally sympathetic, I’ve had no shit whatsoever; they’ve called me careless, but no one has branded me a cheater - that’s important to me. The public too have been very supportive.

VN: What about team mates?

AR: I’ve received a lot of emails of support, with many guys saying; ‘come and train with us whilst your serving the ban.’

I leave Livigno today to go back to Girona and I’m going to continue with my training straight away. The view I’m taking of my time out is that it’s as if I have an injury and I have to come back from it.

VN: Danes are conservative by nature, with a well developed sense of right and wrong – this must hurt you?

AR: It does - I feel like I’m a small piece of a puzzle in a big game. They’ve used me to set an example and fairness doesn’t enter into it.

VN: This must have cost you a lot of money?

AR: For sure, but that’s not what’s important, I’d race for no salary just now – I wanted so much to go to the Olympics again.

VN: What now?

AR: I’m going to get back to training – stay focussed and look forward to racing again. Training is the best thing – it’ll keep my head clear and stop me thinking about the Olympics too much.

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