Monday, November 12, 2007

Joost and his team

[Update: Chris Selden has an summary of the Rasmussen inquiry and its outcome on Pez Cycling News.] I haven't written about Joost Posthuma for a few weeks.

Late in September, he crashed during the individual time trial in the World Cycling Chamionships, but wasn't badly hurt and has since recovered. His web site says it started raining while he was on the course. He went too fast around a corner and slipped. At the time he was doing very well and, but for the crash, might have achieved a finish within the top ten.

Early in October he re-injured his hip during the Paris Tours race. He hasn't raced since then, but he reports that he has signed up for another two years with the team and is now taking a holiday in Egypt with his family.

There's been plenty of news about the Rabobank Team itself. They sacked their leader during the Tour de France while he was in first place with good expectation of achieving the overall win. At the time they explained that he had missed two drug tests in the weeks before the race and had lied about his whereabouts. The Rabo site, the cycling press, and Rasmussen's own web site now have reports of an official inquiry into the incident.

Rasmussen says the team knew where he was all the time, he didn't take performance-enhancing drugs,* and he lied about his location for private reasons. The private reasons have to do with his family, specifically his wife, and he asks the press to respect his desire for privacy.

The press says that the ruling body of cycle racing, the UCI, does not accept Rasmussen's account as an acceptible explanation. They say that the fact that he lied is enough to bar him from the sport.

Two reports on the Rabo site say that the executive board of the group that runs Rabo cycling commissioned the inquiry and supports its conclusions. They admit that they had information about Rasmussen's whereabouts, knew that he lied, and had contact him at least some of the time while he was in Italy and France when he said he was in Mexico. (There had already been a partial admission of Rabo compicity. Without giving details, the Rabo cycling director admitted wrong-doing and resigned right after the Tour de France last July.)

As I see this, the good news is that Rabo do admit they made serious mistakes, they did sack Rasmussen, though they should not even have let him start the race, and they can say they are clean: there has been no allegation nor any evidence that the team, its sports staff, or its medical staff had anything to do with illegal drugs.

Here's a link to Rabo's report of the matter. A brief extract: "The Executive Board commissioned the committee to conduct an independent inquiry into the course of events surrounding the Rasmussen affair. The main conclusion of the report is that Rasmussen was rightly expelled from the competition and later dismissed. He demonstrably lied about and tampered with his whereabouts. There is no evidence that Rasmussen used doping. ... Serious errors of judgement were clearly made, primarily by the Chairman of the Board of Directors. ... It is patently obvious from the information known now that Rasmussen should not have been allowed to start in the Tour de France."

* Rasmussen doesn't say he never took any drugs, but rather "I have never during my career taken EPO or Dynepo." However, to his credit, his web site gives a table showing the dope tests he took and their results from March 2005 through October 2007. Here are the concluding paragraphs on the subject on his web site:
In order to steer clear of speculations concerning what went on in Italy and whether he has complied with the doping regulations Michael Rasmussen presents his so called ‘biological passport’ in terms of tests from the previous 3 years. All the values show normal variations which should give absolutely no cause for suspicion about manipulation. These values are of course known by the UCI.

“In this connection I would like to stress that I have violated the whereabouts regulations but I have never missed a doping control performed by the UCI. From this point on I will obey all UCI rules and I am still available for control. Thus, I can also tell you that after the Tour de France I have had two further out of competition tests from the UCI with no remarks,” says Michael Rasmussen.

“My greatest wish right now is to ensure clarity about this matter and be able to return to professional cycling,” Michael Rasmussen says.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

His last name reminds me of the Latin for after-death.