French bosses round on Rasmussen

The manager of the AG2r Prévoyance team, Vincent Lavenu, said on Friday that Michael Rasmussen's official warning from the UCI "leaves doubts hanging over the Tour's leader" as the race prepares to enter its final week.

The manager of the AG2r Prévoyance team, Vincent Lavenu, said on Friday that Michael Rasmussen's official warning from the UCI "leaves doubts hanging over the Tour's leader" as the race prepares to enter its final week.

Speaking shortly after Tour boss Christian Prudhomme announced that Rasmussen would line up as normal for stage 12 of the Tour, Lavenu clearly disagreed with the Dane's assertion that he had "done nothing wrong".

"It's true that if a rider goes away for a weekend with his wife, he has to give notification, and that can be tiresome. That said, you might forget once but twice is a lot," Lavenu commented.

"Twice is a lot, definitely," the Frenchman continued. "That means that there are at least some doubts. Beyond that, the Danish Federation's decision to bar him from the Olympics and the world championships looks to me like a half measure. Either the Federation decides there has been a doping infraction and it imposes a sanction, or it doesn't. There can be no half measures and barring Rasmussen from the national team seems to me like a half measure. It's another way of passing the buck to the Tour de France and Rasmussen's team.

"We all want to move towards completely eradicating the doping problem, but there are still a few riders who never get the message. I don't know whether Rasmussen is one of those riders."

On Friday evening, Lavenu's Bouygues Telecom counterpart, Jean-René Bernaudeau didn't mince his words when asked to comment on the Rasmussen controversy. Bernaudeau said laconically, "Frankly, I'm sick of these blokes like Rasmussen, who do whatever they want...Rest assured, though, that one day sport will be the winner."

As one would expect, Rasmussen's Rabobank directeur sportif Erik Dekker, was more sympathetic. Like Rasmussen earlier on Friday, Dekker suggested that the Dane might be far from the only one to have received a doping-related warning in the recent or distant past.

"I think it's being blown out of proportion a bit," Dekker told Bikeradar.com. "Michael might be the only rider with a warning but he might also be one in a hundred in the Tour peloton. There's no positive test or anything like that.

"We trust Michael," Dekker continued. "I think that the Danish Federation has made this decision because they were stung by Bjarne Riis's doping confession. For now, Michael's not worried about not being allowed to take part in the Olympics or the World's. He's still 100 per cent focused on this race."

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