Michael Rasmussen back in court tomorrow as multi-million Euro claim continues
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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Michael Rasmussen back in court tomorrow as multi-million Euro claim continues

by Shane Stokes at 11:49 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
De Rooij, Breukink and Leinders called as witnesses

Michael RasmussenMichael Rasmussen’s attempt to get 5.8 million euro from his former Rabobank team moves back into the courts tomorrow, when he and several others who worked with the squad will appear before a judge.

Rasmussen is contesting the team’s decision to eject him from the 2007 Tour de France, days from what seemed like an almost-certain victory for him.

The Danish rider’s troubles began before the race when he lied about his whereabouts to anti-doping authorities. He had said that he was in Mexico when he was actually training with the team in Italy, thus preventing out of competition testing from being carried out on him.

The issue was revealed by the Danish cycling federation during the Tour. Rasmussen continued to deny he was in Italy, but this became incontestable when former pro Davide Casani confirmed that he had seen the rider training there.

The issue led to intense scrutiny by the media during the race, particularly when he took over the race lead. The pressure eventually led to Rabobank sending him home, a decision he says led to the loss of a major career objective plus the financial rewards and contracts that would have brought.

He claims the Rabobank team was fully aware of his misdirection in relation to his whereabouts, and therefore it was unjustified in taking action against him.

A court already awarded him damages in a 2008 legal action, but he is arguing that the sum of 715,000 euro is a fraction of what he lost out on in the years since. Rasmussen served a two year suspension and struggled to find a team afterwards, amid disputed rumours of a backlist.

He now competes with the Continental Christina Watches-Onfone team, and was third overall in the recent Tour of China I.

He is attempting to secure just under six million euro as compensation.

On June 19th it was reported that the court in Arnhem, the Netherlands, had failed to reach a decision and that Rabobank were preparing to call witnesses. According to Ad.nl, former team bosses Theo de Rooij and Erik Breukink, former team doctor Geert Leinders, the former head of communications for the bank and the lawyer Vincent Pijpers Harrogate Knijff have been called as witnesses.

Even if the court agrees that Rasmussen was harshly treated by the team, it remains to be seen if he will be compensated. The Rabobank sponsor said last month that it was walking away from the sport due to the USADA case against Lance Armstrong.

The team will continue in 2013 as a white label outfit, with Rabobank agreeing to honour the existing contracts. However unless the court agrees that Rasmussen can chase the sponsor for the sum involved, the budget may not exist to cover any successful claim.

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