Thursday, July 26, 2007

Tour de joke

Tour de France leader Michael Rasmussen was removed from the race by his team after winning Wednesday's stage, the biggest blow yet in cycling's doping-tainted premier event. The expulsion was the directive of the Dutch team sponsor and was linked to "incorrect" information that Rasmussen gave to the team's sports director over his whereabouts last month. Rasmussen, who also has been suspended from the team, missed random drug tests May 8 and June 28, saying he was in Mexico. But a former rider, Davide Cassani, told Denmark's Danmarks Radio on Wednesday that he had seen Rasmussen in Italy in mid-June. "We cannot say that Rasmussen cheated, but his flippancy and his lies on his whereabouts had become unbearable," Tour director Christian Prudhomme told the AP. My immediate reaction is, why didn't they do this at the end of June, when they had the same information," International Cycling Union president Pat McQuaid said. "The team decided to pull him out; that's their prerogative. I can only applaud that. It's a zero-tolerance policy, and it's a lesson for the future."

With the Landis saga last year and now this year's tour turning into a joke, where does cycling go from here? If this sport sinks any lower, it can reserve a spot in the back alley next to Riddick Bowe's cardboard box.

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