Rasmussen escapes €710,000 doping fine as UCI drops demand
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rasmussen escapes €710,000 doping fine as UCI drops demand

by Shane Stokes at 1:40 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Vinokourov appeal to CAS also applies to Danish rider

Michael RasmussenMichael Rasmussen’s refusal to hand over a fine equalling one year’s salary has paid off for the Dane, as the UCI has now indicated it will no longer pursue the amount.

The governing body’s attempt to impose an additional doping penalty took a blow recently when it emerged that CAS had rejected the UCI’s effort to pursue a similar claim against Alexandre Vinokourov. Both he and Rasmussen were ejected from the 2007 Tour de France, with the former testing positive for a blood transfusion and the latter lying about his whereabouts before the race. Rasmussen was just days away from winning the Tour when his team bowed to pressure and sent him home.

Both riders were amongst a group of 620 who signed up to the UCI’s “Commitment to New Cycling” document, which required the riders to pledge that they were clean, had not been involved in Operación Puerto and that they would pay a year’s salary if they tested positive.

Vinokourov and Rasmussen each appealed this when they returned to racing last year, and the UCI sought resist the appeal with CAS.

However the ruling went against the body. CAS concluded that it was little more than a public relations strategy on the part of the UCI, saying that both it and the riders themselves knew it was not legally enforceable.

The UCI had sought to prove that the riders signed the document of their own accord but at it was a requirement of competing in that year’s Tour de France, CAS considered that it was signed under duress.

Its ruling was clear that it considered the UCI to be out of bounds. “The Panel concludes that the “Rider’s commitment for a new cycling”… constitutes an action directed to the public, the media, sponsors and the Tour de France organizer in order to regain public credibility and esteem for the sport of cycling, in general, and the Tour de France 2007, in particular,” it stated. “Therefore, according to Article 18 CO, UCI and Mr Vinokourov did not agree on a valid and binding penalty clause under Swiss civil law.

“The Panel comes to the final conclusion that there is no legal basis for UCI to claim the payment of a contribution under the Rider’s commitment,” the verdict continues. “Accordingly, Mr Vinokourov is not obliged to make the payment requested by the UCI.”

The same principal applies to Rasmussen, and McQuaid confirmed today the penalty would be dropped.

“The same must apply for Michael Rasmussen as does for Vinokourov, because they have used the same arguments to avoid paying,” McQuaid told TV2 Sport. “So when CAS ruled that Vinokourov need not pay his fine, then Michael Rasmussen need not pay. Once CAS determined that our demands are not fair, we will not pursue the case against Michael Rasmussen any further.”

The amount in question is believed to total 5.3 million kroner, or approximately €710,000. The 36 year old Dane has not yet commented on the decision.

Rasmussen is currently trying to secure a contract for 2011. Team Saxo Bank is one of those he is hoping will offer him a deal; it is not known if today’s ruling will improve his chances, but it will certainly be a weight off both his mind and his wallet.



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