Rabobank must pay Michael Rasmussen, court rules

€700,000 payout for unlawful dismissal

Dutch team Rabobank must pay Danish cyclist Michael Rasmussen nearly €700,000 ($1.1 million) for the way it kicked him off its 2007 Tour de France team, a judge ruled Wednesday.

While wearing the leader's yellow jersey, Rasmussen was thrown out the race on July 25 by Rabobank for lying about his whereabouts the previous month when he was being sought out for doping tests.

The 34-year-old instituted proceedings for unlawful dismissal against his former team sponsor, demanding damages of €5.5 million.

A judge in Utrecht ruled that Rabobank had been entitled to dismiss Rasmussen from the team but that it followed the wrong procedure, said a statement from the court. The bank had gone the route of immediate dismissal, a procedure that can only be used on urgent grounds: immediately after the uncover of the facts warranting such action.

In this case, Rabobank must have known about the lies for several weeks before deciding to fire Rasmussen.

The court found he was entitled to two months of salary and the €400,000 bonus he would have received had he won the tour - a total award of €665,000.

On Tuesday, cycling's world governing body UCI announced Rasmussen had been banned for two years by the Monaco cycling federation (FMC), with whom he had a licence.

© AFP 2008

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