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July 20, 2007

VeloNews: Rasmussen had blood substitute in 2002

Tour de France 2007: VeloNews Exclusive: Ex-cyclist levels doping charges at Rasmussen

VeloNews is reporting that yellow jersey Michael Rasmussen asked an American mountain bike racer to carry blood substitute to Italy for him in 2002.

The racer, Whitney Richards, says Rasmussen asked him to bring a pair of cycling shoes he had left in the United States to Italy when he moved there to live with his girlfriend in March 2002.

A mutual friend delivered the box to Richards, who opened the box while packing, thinking he could save space by packing the shoes and leaving the box. Richards says the box was full of silver envelopes labeled “Biopure.”

Richards said he called a friend, Taro Smith, who holds a Ph.D. in physiology, and Smith recognized the contents as Hemopure, a hemoglobin-based oxygen carrier derived from cow's blood.

Richards and Smith said they poured the contents down the sink, rather than risking Richards being detained at customs.

Richards claims that Rasmussen was angry when Richards arrived without the package, asking if Richards had “any idea how much that shit cost?”

“The nerve of the guy," Richards added. "Not only is he a drug cheat, but he didn't give a damn about anybody else. He was willing to put me out there to carry that crap through customs... into Italy at a time when they were investigating Dr. [Michele] Ferrari and people were lobbing accusations at Lance Armstrong. Think about what it would have been like for Italian customs to catch an American with a bunch of bike gear and cows blood at the border.“

Richards talked to VeloNews later in 2002, but only off the record, and asking that Rasmussen not be identified. He later was a source for David Walsh's current book, From Lance to Landis but again asked that neither he nor Rasmussen be identified.

Why did he come forward now?

“[Rasmussen has] won Tour stages before,” Richards said. “It's not that. It was the press conference on Monday that got to me. Someone asked him about Bjarne Riis' involvement with drugs and he went on about how he's clean and then added, ‘You can trust me.' That's what set me off.”

Asked about the allegations on Friday, Rasmussen said he knew Richards' name but “I cannot confirm any of that.”

Posted by Frank Steele on July 20, 2007 in Doping, Michael Rasmussen, Top Stories | Permalink


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I'm pretty sure Hemopure still was undetectable in 2002 -- probably not even on the banned list yet. Cow blood -- crazy stuff!

Posted by: Fritz at Jul 20, 2007 2:35:31 PM

That Rasmussen VeloNews.com article seems to be an absolute scoop. I went to the sight to see stage results - and ended up reading a great "what the ****" article. I expect to see the fireworks fly over this one. Go Levi.

Posted by: joe at Jul 20, 2007 3:45:10 PM

So, in light of this and the issue of Rasmussen's unreported whereabouts, perhaps all the Tour de France participants, for the sake of their profession and the race they love, could simply refuse to begin Stage 13 until Rasmussen directly answers their own questions. Not Christian Prudhomme's questions. Not the press's questions. Not UCI or WADA's questions. Let the Yellow Jersey be accountable to those who ride with him and for him. This is the only way the profession and Tour can be restored to integrity.

Posted by: John Hay, Jr. at Jul 20, 2007 3:51:02 PM

they refer to this incident, but wouldnt name the rider, in the new book "Lance to Landis". very interesting...

Posted by: mats mclean at Jul 21, 2007 12:47:27 AM

say it aint so; say it aint so!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Saiba at Jul 22, 2007 5:00:13 AM

I am SO tired of listening to the four dorks of versus and their interminable drivel, plus the endless stream of meaningless features they shuck onto us every day. Why can't versus hire one knowledgeable commentator, do a few interviews and just concentrate on the important thing, race coverage, and the development of the race.

Posted by: billg at Jul 23, 2007 6:38:32 AM

There is some interesting tour info from a Zipp perspective on zippcast podcast at http://zipp.com/zippcast

Posted by: Arch Stanton at Jul 23, 2007 10:54:16 AM

I just watched a portion of Rasmussen's post stage press briefing. Talk about a deer in the headlights look when about the doping accusation. This guy's as guilty of blood doping as Tyler Hamilton and Jan Ulrich. I love the sport, but am not ignorant. Plus I love the way that cycling officials don't play patty-cake with drug enforcement like they do in the big 3 American sports. Put the hammer on tis pencil neck before Paris. Make him irrelevant as he deserves. I agree with Millar that Rasmussen's turned this tour into "a bit of a shit".

Posted by: joe at Jul 23, 2007 8:24:52 PM

Remember this story?:
...where Actovegin was actually found by the press in direct connection with US Postal? That was far more evidence, or rather, it was actually evidence, whereas the allegations against Rasmussen by Richards carries far less weight. If you are going to believe Rasmussen is guilty and should be thrown out, etc. then I'm sure you were in favor of Lance and co. having a similar fate in the Postal days, right?

How about focussing on the present? There have been a lot of confessions lately and things seem to be moving in a positive direction. Rasmussen hasnt' been caught with products nor has he tested positive. Of course if he misses another out-of-competiton test it WILL count as a doping offense.

I'm sure he's being tested and watched thoroughly. It's 2007, not 2001 or 2.

And if Chicken is doped to the gills, then Contador, and by association all of Discovery, must be doped too since they seem to be most capable of attacking him.

Watch the racing and keep your cynical desire for juicy smears in the press focussed on more important things like the most corrupt and incompent presidency in US history.

Posted by: camrob at Jul 24, 2007 1:20:14 AM

Yeah, let's focus on the racing. Let's ignore that VINO just tested positive for blood doping. Wake the F up. Let's ignore that riders on Stapleton's own team are doping. Let's ignore the Rasmussen circustantial evidence. Mark my text - Rasmussen will be brought down hard. Very hard!

Posted by: joe at Jul 24, 2007 12:12:55 PM

I think we shouldn't accuse Rasmussen until proven guilty, although i am slightly inclined to think he has cheated, how is this any worse then basso, who got a 2 year ban for not cheating but the intention, he was just man enough to say it. I think for cycling sake, Contrador kicks Rasmussen's behind tonight to serve justice, becuase i am so sick of drug cheats winning the tour... lance NOT included...

Posted by: D at Jul 25, 2007 8:08:11 AM