The latest trend in bicycling seems to be going on public TV and admitting to doping use…
Yesterday’s admission by Danish bicyclist Michael Rasmussen that he had been using doping throughout most of his professional career came as a shock to anyone who has kept their eyes tightly shut and held their ears whenever the discussion touched bicycling and doping.
Michael Rasmussen, whose nickname is “Kyllingen” – “The Chicken”, finally stopped living up to that nickname and publicly admitted what everybody must have suspected for years: That he had used just about every kind of doping in existence from 1998 until 2010. He was, he said, “clean” from the time he joined his present team.
Rasmussen’s best results were the world championship in mountainbiking in 1999 and winning the polka-dot jersey as “King of the Mountains” in the Tour de France in 2005 and 2006. In 2007 he was leading the Tour after a spectacular victory in the 16th stage when he was pulled from the race by his own team Rabobank under suspicions of having given false information about his “whereabouts” to the doping authorities. These allegations were later proven correct – Rasmussen had told the authorities that he would prepare for that year’s Tour in Mexico but instead went to Italy. Thus the doping authorities failed to find him when they came for “Out-of-competition tests” and he wasn’t tested positive.
Instead of winning the Tour de France 2007, Rasmussen was given a two-year suspension which effectively ended his career as a top rider. He came back in 2009 and rode for smaller teams before helping to found the Christina Watches-Onfone team for which he rode until yesterday. His admission will cost him another two-year suspension which would normally be much longer, except for his willingness to cooperate with the authorities to identify dealers of doping, other riders who have been cheating, etc.
Ironically, Rasmussen’s exit from the 2007 Tour de France meant that the race was instead won by Alberto Contador of Spain, who later tested positive for Clanbuterol in 2009. The doping authorities didn’t accept his explanation that it must have come from a contaminated beefsteak and suspended him for two years.
Michael Rasmussen plans to work as a salesman for Christina Watches for the next two years before returning to bicycling (though not as a rider; by that time he will be 41 years old). I am increasingly pessimistic about there being any bicycling sport for him to return to. Even if the sport manages to survive its own attempts at self-destruction, he may find himself less than welcome.