By Neil Browne. Photo by Todd Trisch.
These past weeks the cycling world has been rocked by the admission of widespread doping from several riders. The parade of cyclists willing to unburden themselves from the guilt, or perhaps to reduce their suspension under undeniable evidence, continued with Danish rider Michael Rasmussen. Nicknamed “The Chicken” from a Danish cartoon, Rasmussen’s professional cycling career started with mountain biking and ended this week as a member of a professional road racing team.
“I used EPO, cortisone, insulin, human growth hormone and blood transfusions. I have told the anti-doping authorities all of this,” Rasmussen told the assembled press. “From today my cycling career is over, I want to cooperate with Danish institutions. I know I cheated and lied and cheated other riders and I will accept my punishment.”
As a result his punishment is a two-year suspension from cycling—his second ban from the sport. In 2007 he was removed from the Tour de France while in the yellow jersey due to a Whereabouts status violation. Rasmussen claimed he was in Mexico for a pre-Tour training camp. Instead he was training in the Italian Dolomites. He returned to racing in 2009 after serving his suspension.
In the press conference Rasmussen said he had doped from 1998 to 2010. This time span includes his mountain biking career with the Trek-Volkswagen, Gary Fisher, and Haro mountain bike teams. It was in 1999 that he won the cross-country world championships in Åre, Sweden beating Miguel Martinez and Filip Meirhaeghe (who in July of 2004 admitted to his own EPO use and was suspended for two years.)
By admitting to a long history of doping, Rasmussen was facing an eight-year suspension. However, his cooperation with the Danish cycling federation was taken into consideration and was reduced to two years starting from his last race in October 1, 2012, meaning he could return to competition in 2014. However, he has retired from professional racing immediately.
Reading from a statement Rasmussen said, "I’ve informed the anti-doping authorities of what I specifically used, when and how. My agreement with them is confidential, which means I can’t disclose further details at this time. That time may come later."
As it stands Rasmussen is still the 1999 cross-country world champion. As more information is disclosed his results from 1998 to 2010 could be stripped from him—including his rainbow jersey. This would make him the second mountain biker to be stripped of a world championship.
Jerome Chiotti, who in 2000 admitted to using EPO to win the 1996 world championship was the first mountain biker to loose his title.
While “The Chicken’s” racing days are behind him, his former team owner Claus Hembo of Christina Watches said they would welcome him back after his suspension as the team’s sports director.