Well, here we go again. A Yellow Jersey of the Tour de France is on the hot seat.
SUSPENDED BY DENMARK CYCLING ORGANIZATION. On Thursday evening, the Danish Cycling Federation announced that they were suspending Michael Rasmussen from representing Denmark in the world championships in the fall and the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Why? For not turning in his travel itinerary as required (for the purposes of carrying out random anti-doping tests) in a timely manner. Rasmussen could not be found for two such anti-doping tests because UCI officials did not know his whereabouts.
WHY NOW? The Danish cycling officials knew of this problem at the end of June yet permitted him to ride in the Danish national championship race then chose to announce his suspension at this particular time. Why now, in the middle of the Tour de France when he is wearing the Yellow Jersey? Is it an insult to the Tour de France, which is trying it utmost to cooperate with UCI and WADA to wipe out doping? Was Rasmussen coyly dodging UCI doping controls or was he just negligent? Has Rasmussen passed the blood and urine tests that have been administered throughout the Tour de France? Is this a smear, a witch hunt, or are we just waiting for the other shoe to drop?
2002 DOPING STORY SURFACES. In addition, VeloNews is reporting a story today that squarely implicates Rasmussen in past doping activities. A friend and once-competitive cyclist related a detailed, corroborated story to VeloNews that Rasmussen tried to trick him into carrying a cycling shoe box full of blood doping substances from the United States to Europe in 2002. Asked about the story today, Rasmussen admitted to knowing the man but would not comment further about the shoe box situation. So, is it true? If so, what does Michael have to say for himself?
CYCLISTS: DEMAND ACCOUNTABILITY. It seems to me that it's time for the Tour de France participants themselves to demand answers. I suggest that all the riders stage a sit-down boycott at the start of Stage 13 until Rasmussen clearly tells them what's really going on. If the Tour de France and the integrity of professional cycling is to be restored, it won't be by Christian Prudhomme and ASO. It won't be thru UCI and WADA. It won't be thru the press. It will be restored by the cyclists themselves who demand truth and accountability from each other.
STOP THE RACE. So, cyclists, stop the race! Don't mount your bikes. Demand answers from Rasmussen. Don't let him wear the Yellow Jersey one more day until you are satisfied the whole truth is told. Don't get on your bike until either you're satisfied that the Yellow Jersey is innocent of doping or that he is guilty of it. If he's innocent, ride boldly. If he's guilty, don't ride until he adandons the Tour you love. It's come down to this. I don't think anything less will save the sport.