Saxo Bank gives its backing to Riis following Rasmussen allegations
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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Saxo Bank gives its backing to Riis following Rasmussen allegations

by VeloNation Press at 10:19 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
“The latest allegations do not appear credible to me. It 's not going to affect our relationship with Bjarne at all”

Bjarne RiisFollowing claims made by Michael Rasmussen that Bjarne Riis was aware of his doping while he was part of the CSC team in 2002 and raised no objections when the rider received a shot of Synacthen, Riis’ Saxo Bank sponsor has given the team owner support.

The company’s co-founder and CEO Lars Seier Christensen has told TV2.dk that Rasmussen is not trustworthy and that the company will not reconsider its backing of the team.

“It is not for me to resolve allegations and I do not find these particularly reliable,” stated Seier. “We have been sponsors through six seasons without any kind of problems. It is crucial for us, and I have full confidence in Bjarne.

“The latest allegations do not appear credible to me. It 's not going to affect our relationship with Bjarne at all.”

Saxo Bank announced earlier this month that it was stepping up its commitment to the team after Tinkoff Bank made clear it would not continue its co-sponsorship after the end of the season.

The latter’s owner Oleg Tinkov had been unhappy with Alberto Contador’s inability to win the Tour de France and said that he would not extend his current backing. He subsequently tried to negotiate a deal with the Cannnodale team but it baulked at his demands for ownership and an agreement was not reached.

Rasmussen’s claims are amongst several which have been released prior to the publication of his book Yellow Fever. He also made allegations against riders such as Ryder Hesjedal, Rolf Sorensen, Nicki Sørensen and Frank Høj.

Riis’ running of his teams is currently of interest to Anti Doping Denmark, which has been looking into doping in cycling. He has denied any untoward practices on his teams, but doubt has been cast on this by other former riders including Tyler Hamilton and Jörg Jaksche.

Meanwhile more details have emerged about Rasmussen’s accusation that the UCI had not acted in 2005 when he had clear signs of doping during that year’s Tour. He writes that his value of immature red blood cells [reticulocytes] was just 0.23, under the minimum threshold of 0.3. However he stated that the UCI let him continue in the race, even though there were other suspicious samples.

He said that after being given a blood bag by then-Rabobank team doctor Gert Leinders, that a UCI blood control picked up a level of reticulocytes [immature red blood cells] of just 0.23, 0.02 under the UCI’s permitted threshold.

However while he should have been thrown out of the race, he said that the fact that Rabobank was the sport’s biggest sponsor meant that the UCI didn’t act as it should have.

“Rabobank was not cycling the sport's biggest sponsor for nothing, and the UCI had perhaps known that it was best not to create unnecessary trouble for the team that had given the sport so much,” he wrote in his book, according to Politiken.

“Doctor Leinders and doctor Mario Zorzoli, the head of the UCI's Medical Department, had a meeting where they talked the matter over. When it was over, I was allowed to ride on. No cause for alarm.

"Afterwards Dr Leinders told me what had happened. He used a Dutch expression: 'we have butter on the minds'. They glide by, cases. Rabobank had a good relationship with the UCI; We had figured it out amicably '.

He added that Leinders told him that he was “the most protected rider in Tour de France right now.”

Leinders went on to work with Team Sky, but left last year. The team denies it knew about his past when it hired him.

Rasmussen also stated that he had an exchange before a stage with the 2005 race winner Lance Armstrong [who has since been stripped of his title – ed.], with a clear subtext.

“We were side by side in our respective jerseys,” he explained, referring to Armstrong’s yellow jersey and Rasmussen’s King of the Mountains top. “He looked at me with a teasing expression and asked: ' well, what did you eat yesterday?’

“I just looked at him and replied, ‘probably the same as you.”

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