UCI regulation blocking dopers from team positions won’t apply to Rasmussen
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Thursday, January 31, 2013

UCI regulation blocking dopers from team positions won’t apply to Rasmussen

by Shane Stokes at 5:45 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
WADA confirms value of rider’s testimony, Christina Watches company pledges to support him during suspension

Michael RasmussenMichael Rasmussen’s admission today of doping over a twelve year period looks unlikely to prevent him from his aim of returning to the sport as a directeur sportif once his ban is over, with a UCI rule limiting dopers from working with teams not being applicable in his case.

In June 2011 the UCI announced an addition to its rules, regulation number, which would prevent those who were deemed guilty of involvement in doping practices from working as part of pro teams. Amongst the positions that would be blocked are general manager, team manager, coach, doctor, paramedical assistant, mechanic, driver, as well as other functions.

However the rule applied to violations committed after July 1st 2011 only. Rasmussen’s admission of doping today related to the years between 1998 and 2010 and so, unless the UCI or another entity discovers and proves that he used banned substances after this point, the way seems clear for him to return.

Substantial cooperation:

According to Anti-Doping Denmark, Rasmussen was questioned last week in Amsterdam and this week in Copenhagen. He admitted the violations in those meetings to the Dutch Doping Autoriteit and ADD in the Netherlands. USADA and WADA were also involved. They were thanked for their ‘excellent cooperation’ by ADD’s CEO Lone Hansen.

World Anti Doping Agency director general David Howman told VeloNation that it had assisted by the Danish and Dutch national doping organisations in their recent interviews. “This is an example of the increased cooperation and information sharing that exists amongst the world’s anti-doping authorities,” he said.

“WADA is encouraged by Mr. Rasmussen’s decision to confess to his doping past and provide details on the doping activities that exist within the sport of cycling. We are confident that his confession and the details he has shared will assist in the fight against doping in sport.”

According to Dutch Doping Autoriteit director Herman Ram, that information was “very detailed. We have names and numbers from him. Rasmussen told a lot about himself, but also about what was happening around him in doping.”

The ADD pointed out that under the WADA rules, the eight year ban that Rasmussen would be liable for as a second offence can be reduced substantially. “Having evaluated Rasmussen's statements, it is the opinion of the anti-doping authorities that Rasmussen has offered "substantial assistance" and accordingly the preconditions for a reduced sanction are met,” it stated.

“The NOC's Doping Commission therefore intends to prosecute Michael Rasmussen before the Doping Tribunal, requesting a suspension of 8 years, but reduced by three quarters to 2 years, starting on 1 October 2012, i.e. from after Rasmussen participated in his last race.”

According to the general manager of the Christina Watches Onfone team, Claus Hembo, he and Rasmussen are hoping that the sanction will be this length, but that it is too soon to be certain. “We don’t know the length of any suspension at this point,” he told VeloNation today.

New role with chief sponsor’s company:

However, whatever period of time the now-retired rider is sidelined, he said that the Christina Watches company would give him a regular employment for the duration in question. “He is a very good friend of Christina [his wife Christina Hembo, the owner of the company – ed] and me and we will not let him just pass into nothing. We will take good care of him until the suspension is over.

“He will be on the sales force in some position. We will have to define it. Michael is an intelligent and likeable guy. I think we will have no problems in finding him something good for him to do, something meaningful that will give him new challenges until he is ready to rejoin the cycling team.”

'It is a big relief for him'

Today’s news has brought mixed reactions from fans of the sport, with some applauding Rasmussen for now telling the truth and others saying that he doesn’t deserve sympathy or congratulations after telling mistruths for so long.

Hembo claims that the rider is opening up for the right reasons, and that while he will benefit from not having to shoulder a lie, that the sport will also gain too.

“To be honest, I think it a big relief for him. I don’t think that he wanted to be part of a cycling sport that turned out like this. I think he would have been one of the best riders had there been no doping, and I think he is sorry about that.”

He said at the press conference earlier today that he considered the sport still had a doping problem, and that it was very difficult for teams to compete with others who are not following the rules.

“When we started this team, we fully agreed that we want to make a clean team. We have done that,” he insisted. “We also realised that in a situation like this now [the current state of the sport], it will be difficult to have a winning team that is clean. Michael wanted to stop all the lies and wanted to be part of a new future.

“I think of course someone can blame him for being doped, for taking such a long time to admit it, but Christina and I praise him for having the courage to do it [come clean]. I think today is not the day to blame him as he is part of a new beginning. Other riders said nothing, but he wants to be one of those who can change cycling and we think he deserves a lot of credit for that.”

Asked what his motivation is, Hembo states that it is to ensure that others don’t have the same choices to make. “He wants young riders to have an opportunity to live a better life. He thinks they should not work in the same system that he did. That is why that Christina and I and all the sponsors of the team have supported this decision. Of course we could run away, but that would be totally wrong. We want to give a signal that we want to be part of this new world, to be active in the fight against doping.”


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