Christian Prudhomme, director of the Tour de France, announced during a press conference this morning that Michael Rasmussen is clear to carry on riding in the race despite being dropped from his Danish national squad for failure to supply information on his whereabouts and missing dope controls in June.
Race leader Rasmussen became the focus of reports after the Danish Cycling Federation (DCU) announced yesterday that he would not be selected for its national team for either the 2007 World Championships in September or next year's Beijing Olympics. Rasmussen blamed the lack of communication regarding his whereabouts on postal delays.
In a strong statement issued to the hundreds of assembled journalists and TV crews, Prudhomme said: "Why has the Danish Cycling Federation waited until now, when Rasmussen is in the yellow jersey, to give details? Why speak now for events that will take place at the end of September?". Prudhomme was evidently angry that the news had been released to gain maximum publicity at the expense of the Tour.
Prudhomme also stated that Rasmussen has been dope tested on July 15, 17, 18 and 19 during the race, and the results are pending.
Rasmussen's name has appeared in the 'Men in Black' investigation, lead by the UCI's chief anti-doping officer Anne Gripper, which centres around riders who train in unmarked kit in 'strange' locations - Rasmussen has openly admitted that he trains in Mexico at altitude in order to improve his performance in the mountains. Astana team leader Alexandre Vinokourov has also been named in conjunction with the investigation.
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