Rasmussen's entrance in question


November 13, 2007

UTRECHT, Netherlands -- Danish cyclist Michael Rasmussen shouldn't have been allowed to start in the Tour de France because he allegedly evaded doping tests ahead of the race, an independent inquiry concluded yesterday.

Peter Vogelzang, the police chief in Utrecht who led the inquiry commissioned by Rasmussen's former Rabobank team, said team management ignored warning signals and advice from Danish cycling authorities when they let him race in France.

Rasmussen wore the leader's yellow jersey and had won the 16th stage when he was ejected for allegedly lying about his whereabouts to avoid doping tests.

The decision cast a shadow over the Tour for the second straight year, after 2006 champion Floyd Landis was stripped of his title for failing a doping test.

"Based on the facts prior to the Tour, Rasmussen should not have been allowed to start in the Tour," said the 48-page report by Vogelzang into Rasmussen's ouster, adding that his ejection was justified.

Rasmussen declined to comment yesterday, saying he wanted more time to read the report. He also said he would meet today with the International Cycling Union in Switzerland to discuss the case.

Rasmussen admitted Thursday that he lied to the UCI about where he was before the Tour de France. He missed random doping tests in May and June, saying he had been in Mexico, but acknowledged Thursday that he was actually in France and Italy at the time. Rasmussen cited "marital reasons" for lying, but declined to elaborate.

The report dismissed his excuse and said Rasmussen "deliberately provided incorrect whereabouts information on multiple occasions" to avoid doping checks.

The report also criticized the UCI for the way it enforces its doping policy: "The UCI must attain a higher level of professionalism with regard to the formulation, enforcement and monitoring of its own doping regulations."

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