|Puerto blood confirmed to be Ullrich's / Ullrich retirement plans
||[Apr. 4th, 2007|05:50 pm]
German sports news agency sid revealed on Tuesday afternoon that the blood bags seized in Operación Puerto and marked "Jan," "number 1" or "Hijo Rudicio" ('son of Rudy') have been confirmed to contain the blood of the now-retired German cycling star, Jan Ullrich. Public prosecutor Fred Apostel told sports news agency sid that the comparison with a DNA sample taken from Ullrich's saliva showed "without a doubt" that the blood seized by the Guardia Civil last year indeed belonged to the only German to have ever won the Tour de France.
"We found nine blood bags that we could compare with the DNA probes," Apostel told n-tv. For the prosecutor, this proves that Jan Ullrich had indeed been in contact with the Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. "This shows that blood bags were stored there [in Fuentes' offices]," he added.
The Ullrich camp has meanwhile reacted and posted a statement on the personal website of the former cyclist, janullrich.de. Attorney Johann Schwenn declared that "The defence will take a close look at the opinion of the Federal Criminal Police Office. After the irregularities in the Spanish procedure it is well possible that this finding is the consequence of manipulation. In any case, there is no reason to change anything in the line of defence of Jan Ullrich."
The public prosecutor in Bonn, Germany is investigating fraud charges against Ullrich, as well as his advisor Rudy Pevenage. Source: cyclingnews.com
Problems for Ullrich will not disappear - ex T-Mobile team mate Oscar Sevilla has recently been signed by Relax-Cam (March 2007), along with Franceso Mancebo, both riders originally associated with Operation Puerto - but the case for Ullrich continues even though he announced his retirement as a professional cyclist on 26th February 2007. Article follows regarding retirement plans.
26th February 2007 - cyclingnews.com
1997 Tour de France champion and 2000 Olympic Gold Medallist Jan Ullrich has announced the end of his career as a professional cyclist, but will stay involved in cycling as an advisor to the Austrian Professional Continental Team Volksbank. At a press conference this morning in Hamburg, Germany, he said, "I could ride again immediately, I could get a license, I am fit, as fit as last year and could immediately have a team. I have seven offers, including ProTour teams."
But, as he noted, he decided against it. "It has taken months until I was sure what I wanted, what would make me happy. Today, I want to officially announce that I will stay involved in cycling, but not as an active rider."
While he emphasized, "I have never cheated," he did not directly address the issue of doping and whether or not he had been involved with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes. Since the beginning of Operación Puerto, Ullrich has denied any involvement with Fuentes.
The German rider went on to ride the Giro d'Italia, where he won a time trial, and the Tour de Suisse, where he took the overall win. Things remained quiet until the Operación Puerto investigation suddenly exploded on the day before the start of the Tour de France. That morning T-Mobile announced it was suspending Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and director sportif/Ullrich mentor Rudy Pevenage, claiming that the team had received documents from the ASO which made it "impossible" for them to further work with the three.
Ullrich was subsequently the subject of an investigation by Swiss Cycling, which had issued his license. That investigation is continuing. In addition, the German public prosecutor announced an investigation on fraud charges. The investigation involved a search of Ullrich's house in Switzerland, and ultimately a DNA test.
Ullrich's attorneys have filed suit in Switzerland to prevent the transfer of evidence taken into custody during the house search to German investigators, and had attempted to stop the transfer of evidence and related documents from Spain. However, a Spanish court denied that request the end of last week.