Jan. 31 (Bloomberg) -- Former Tour de France rider Michael Rasmussen said he used banned performance-enhancing substances for 12 years, and retired from cycling.
The 38-year-old Dane was leading the 2007 Tour de France when he was withdrawn amid claims from his Rabobank team that he lied about his whereabouts in the period leading up the race. He served a two-year ban and had his contract terminated by Rabobank for missing three anti-doping tests.
Today at a press conference in Copenhagen, Rasmussen said that from 1998 until 2010, he’d used the endurance-boosting hormone erythropoietin, or EPO, cortisone, hormones and blood transfusions.
“I know that I’ve cheated and lied and I’m ready to accept my punishment for it,” Rasmussen told reporters. “I leave here today as an incredibly relieved man.”
Rasmussen is the fifth former Rabobank team rider to say he’s used banned substances to boost his performance. The admissions come after Lance Armstrong of the U.S. said he cheated by doping in a television interview earlier this month following 13 years of denials.
In the past month, German rider Grischa Niermann and Dutchmen Danny Nelissen, Marc Lotz and Thomas Dekker also admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs. Rasmussen, a former mountain biker, rode for Rabobank from 2003 until 2007.
Rabobank Groep, a Dutch mortgage lender, in October ended its 17-year sponsorship of cycling after the team was linked to the doping scandal. Last week, Rabobank said doping admissions made by its former athletes were “disturbing and shocking.”
A report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, or USADA, in October, which described widespread cheating, said American rider Levi Leipheimer doped when on the Rabobank team in 2003. Leipheimer is a former teammate of Armstrong, who was stripped of his Tour de France titles and banned for life for what USADA said in October was “serial cheating.”
“I am obviously disappointed to learn that Michael Rasmussen was doping throughout most of his professional career,” Lone Hansen, chief executive officer of Anti Doping Denmark said in an e-mailed press release today. “But on the other hand I would like to express my satisfaction over the fact that Rasmussen has decided to cooperate with the anti-doping authorities hereby providing us with valuable information, not only about other doping offences, but also giving us valuable insights into an otherwise secret part of professional cycling.”
The Danish anti-doping agency added Rasmussen had been interrogated in cooperation with USADA, the Dutch anti-doping authorities and the World Anti-Doping Agency.
Anti Doping Denmark said it would be seeking a reduced two-year ban, instead of eight, starting Oct. 1 2012, because Rasmussen had offered “substantial assistance.”
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