UCI chief says Tour director made angry phone call

Updated: July 21, 2007, 10:01 AM ET
Associated Press

ALBI, France -- Cycling chief Pat McQuaid wants an apology from Tour de France race director Christian Prudhomme for a late-night telephone call in which Prudhomme supposedly asked him if he was trying to "kill the Tour de France."

McQuaid, the president of the International Cycling Union, told The Associated Press that Prudhomme called him Thursday night to complain about the timing of the announcement that Tour leader Michael Rasmussen had been kicked off the Danish national team.

Rasmussen had been warned weeks earlier for failing to report his whereabouts during training in May and June and thus missing two out-of-competition doping tests.

"I'm expecting an apology from Prudhomme for the way he acted," McQuaid said by telephone Saturday from Dublin, Ireland, where he is on vacation with his family.

"He [Prudhomme] rang me, and was ranting and raving and would not let me speak," McQuaid said. "He went on and on. He said ... 'Are you trying to kill the Tour de France?'. I said 'call me when you're calmer', and I put the phone down."

Calls made by The Associated Press to reach Prudhomme for comment were not immediately returned.

The announcement about Rasmussen was not made until more than halfway through the Tour even though UCI and the Danish cycling federation had known about the infractions weeks ago, which led to speculation about the timing.

"It effectively resembles an attempt at destabilization," Patrice Clerc, head of the Amaury Sports Organization which owns the Tour, told French sports daily L'Equipe Saturday.

On Wednesday, the German cycling federation announced that T-Mobile rider Patrik Sinkewitz had tested positive for elevated testosterone at a team training camp in the French Pyrenees more than five weeks ago.

"I ask myself why this information came out during the Tour," Clerc said.

McQuaid said the timing had nothing to do with himself or the UCI.

"Jumping to conclusions annoys me," McQuaid said. "The mere fact they think we would do something against the Tour de France on purpose is off the wall."

McQuaid added that he only became aware of Rasmussen's situation when a journalist informed him of it -- shortly before Prudhomme called.

Prudhomme cleared Rasmussen to continue racing in the Tour on Friday.

Cyclists must keep officials informed of their whereabouts for possible unannounced doping controls. Rasmussen missed two recent drug tests. A third no-show would be considered equivalent to a positive test and lead to a ban.

Prudhomme has questioned why Rasmussen was allowed to compete at the Danish national championships on July 1, and why the decision to drop him from the national team was made this week during the Tour, weeks after the warning.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press