Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) continues to lead the Tour de France but is under constant attack from both main rivals Alberto Contador and from leading figures in cycling regarding his missed out of competition doping tests before the Tour de France.

On Monday UCI President Pat McQuaid came off the fence and questioned if a Rasmussen victory in the Tour would be good for the sport.

"With all this speculation around him it would be better if somebody else were to win. The last thing this sport needs is more speculation about doping," McQuaid said.

Carefully trying to judge his words, McQuaid also said that the Danish rider has "broken no rules, so from that point of view? you have to give him the benefit of the doubt."

Britain?s David Millar was not so balanced when he was asked by French newspaper L?Equipe what he thought about Rasmussen missing two out of competition tests and going AWOL for 22 days before the Tour de France.

"It is unacceptable that Rasmussen did not manage to give notice of his whereabouts. It is understandable he had problems communicating his address from Mexico, but it is up to him to make sure his federation receives notification,? Millar said.

"He started the race knowing what would happen but did nothing to rectify the situation and now we are all screwed and the Tour is in the shit and we?re all in the shit. He took no notice of warnings from the UCI though he deserved to be punished. He has either been unprofessional or has used the system."

?The only good thing is that this should make us change the system. If all the riders agree to use a system on-line that allows riders to immediately change their address or programme. It already exists in Great Britain, why can?t it be used by all the peloton??


On Monday evening the UCI?s chief anti-doping officer Anne Gripper said she had received an e-mail from former US mountain biker Whitney Richards in which he tells of "some interaction he had had with Rasmussen."

Richards is expected to be questioned by the UCI next week about the detailed doping accusations he made against Rassmusen last Friday to US magazine Velonews. If the UCI believes the evidence is credible, they may open a disciplinary procedure against Rasmussen, although if he goes on to win the Tour de France he would not lose his victory because the accusation relate to 2002.

On Tuesday, the Tour de France enjoys the second rest day of the race in Pau at the foot of the Pyrenees. However, doping will still be in the cycling headlines as sprinter Alessandro Petacchi faces his disciplinary hearing in Rome and Patrik Sinkewitz is likely to hear the result of the B test urine sample and be sacked from T-mobile if it confirms the presence of testosterone.

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