Michael Rasmussen latest cyclist to admit doping
In the latest doping scandal to hit cycling since Lance Armstrong’s confession earlier this month, Danish rider Michael Rasmussen admitted yesterday that he took performance-enhancing drugs for more than a decade.
Rasmussen, a climbing specialist who won stage victories in the Tour de France and Spanish Vuelta, said he took everything from testosterone and growth hormones to blood transfusions from 1998-2010 in an effort to boost his performance.
The 38-year-old Dane said he would quit the sport immediately and cooperate with anti-doping agencies. In return, Danish anti-doping officials said they would seek a two-year suspension instead of the eight years that normally comes with a second violation.
“When I get up from here today and leave this room, it’s as a very relieved man,” Rasmussen said in Denmark. “I no longer have a heavy burden to carry, like I have done for the last several years.
“I am happy that I don’t have to sit and lie to you anymore when you ask about my past.”
“I am aware I have cheated and lied,” he added. “I am ready to accept my punishment.”
Rasmussen raced mountain bikes before switching to road racing for teams including CSC-Tiscali and Rabobank.
He won the King of the Mountains polka dot jersey as the best climber at the 2005 and 2006 Tours de France and was overall leader in 2007 until he was kicked off the tour for lying about his whereabouts when he missed pre-race doping tests.
He later admitted that he had lied and was banned for two years but, until now, had insisted he didn’t break any rules and he never tested positive.
Rasmussen’s full confession comes two weeks after Armstrong admitted he doped on his way to his since-removed seven Tour de France victories.
Earlier this week, anti-doping authorities suspended Luxembourg’s Frank Schleck until July 14 after he tested positive for a banned substance during last year’s Tour de France. Schleck has denied any wrongdoing.
Rasmussen said he was cooperating with anti-doping agencies in Denmark, the Netherlands and the United States, as well as the World Anti-Doping Agency, in an effort to “help clean up the sport”.
Anti-Doping Denmark chief Lone Hansen said Rasmussen had provided “valuable information, not only about other doping offences, but also giving us valuable insights into an otherwise secret part of cycling.”
Rasmussen’s admission is the biggest doping scandal in Danish cycling since Bjarne Riis revealed in 2007 that he had used EPO to win the Tour in 1996.
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