Michael Rasmussen, the Danish rider thrown off the Tour de France by his Rabobank team in 2007 when in the race leader's maillot jaune, has confessed to doping from 1998 to 2010. Anti Doping Danmark confirmed that he is fully co-operating with it, and that its Doping Commission will open a case against him. Given his "substantial assistance," a ban of two years rather than the eight he could have faced, is proposed, although Rasmussen has immediately announced his retirement from racing.
Rasmussen made his admission at a press conference this lunchtime held by the 38-year-old's Christina Watches-Onfone team, which says it believes his experience can be key to helping ensure a clean future for cycling.
The Dane, winner of the mountains jersey at the Tour de France in 2005 and 2006, will now work as directeur sportif at the UCI Continental-registered team.
Rasmussen joined the team in mid-2010, and its owners said today they are satisfied he has not doped since signing for it.
According to a statement from Anti Doping Danmark, Rasmussen has admitted using "EPO, cortisone, hormones, and blood transfusions," among other banned substances and techniques.
The agency's investigation included international co-operation from the Dutch anti-doping agency, Doping Autoriteit, the United States Anti Doping Authority and the World Anti Doping Agency. It is likely that Rasmussen's confession will lead to action against other individuals.
"I would like to thank our colleagues from the US and the Netherlands and WADA for excellent cooperation," said Lone Hansen, CEO of Anti Doping Denmark, which is holding a press conference at 2.30pm GMT this afternoon at which it is being reported that the name of a current Danish rider involved in doping will be revealed.
"The investigations of doping cases have improved very much recently, and this case is an excellent example of the implications of the work initiated by USADA’s investigation."
He continued: "I am obviously disappointed to learn that Michael Rasmussen was doping throughout most of his professional career.
"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."
Morten Mølholm Hansen, Director of Development of the NOC and Sports Confederation of Denmark and Board Member of Anti Doping Denmark, commented: "We often hear that we should leave the past and concentrate on the future.
"But the knowledge we have received through the interrogations of Michael Rasmussen will be extremely important for our future work to detect the use of doping and to prevent doping in the future.
"It is also an important message to young athletes who might consider doping that you cannot hide behind a negative test result forever, you will get caught eventually.
"It also sends a signal to the entourage and support personnel connected to the athletes that we now have new tools in our efforts towards a clean sport. "
Rsmussen was sacked by Rabobank while leading the 2007 Tour when it transpired that instead of being in Mexico in June 2007, as he had told his team and the UCI, he was instead training in Italy, where he was spotted by ex pro turned TV commentator, Davide Cassani.
He was subsequently banned for two years by the Monaco cycling federation, which held his licence, a decision subsequently upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Rasmussen, winner of the cross-country mountain bike world championship in 1999 - a victory that falls within the period in which he has admitted doping - switched to the road in 2001 as a stagiaire for CSC. That led to a contract with the Danish team for the 2002 season, after which he joined Rabobank in 2003.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.