SI.com – More Sports – Overall leader Rasmussen pulled from Tour – Wednesday July 25, 2007 11:15PM
GOURETTE, France (AP) — One of its biggest stars is already gone, and now so is the leader of the Tour de France.
Michael Rasmussen was removed from the race by his Rabobank team after winning Wednesday’s stage, a day after Alexandre Vinokourov and his team withdrew when the star cyclist tested positive for a banned blood transfusion.
“Michael Rasmussen has been sent home for violating (the team’s) internal rules,” Rabobank spokesman Jacob Bergsma told The Associated Press by phone.
The good news is, cycling is really trying to fix their doping problem. The bad news is, this expulsion might not be due to doping:
“Of course I’m clean,” Rasmussen said, after a doping test following Wednesday’s stage win. “Like I said, I’ve been tested 17 times now in less than two weeks. Both the peloton and the public, they’re just taking their frustration out on me now. I mean, all I can say is that by now I had my test number 17 on this Tour, and all of those have come back negative. I don’t feel I can do anymore than that.”
Innocent until proven guilty. If the team wants to can him for lying to them, that’s their business, but there seems to be more than a little implication that he’s dirty but not caught. And that’s bad.
Although Rasmussen has not tested positive, some fellow cyclists had openly voiced their skepticism about him.
Fans booed Rasmussen at the start of Wednesday’s stage, and mostly French teams staged a protest to express disgust at the doping scandals that have left cycling’s credibility in tatters. As the starter’s flag came down, dozens of protesting riders stood still as Rasmussen, ace sprinter Tom Boonen and several others began riding away.
Well, if Frenchmen are protesting you, you’re on the right track. The repercussions continue:
All this talk of doping prompted Jean-Francois Lamour, vice president of the World Anti-Doping Agency, to suggest the sport should be yanked from the Olympics. German public broadcasters have stopped airing the race, and one of Switzerland’s biggest newspapers stopped writing about it. The daily Tages Anzeiger said on its Web site Wednesday it will limit its coverage to results and doping stories.
I know next to nothing about sport and drug testing, but this has passed through to surreal…