By Shane Stokes
Although the Swiss Cycling Federation is planning a disciplinary case against Jan Ullrich, the UCI has said that it cannot currently prevent him from racing.
"Under the situation at the moment, he can ride just as Basso can," UCI president Pat McQuaid told Cyclingnews this week. "However I do note that there are statements that his procedure might start in January and, also, he doesn't at this moment have a team."
The 1997 Tour de France winner was implicated in the Operación Puerto affair and missed the Tour de France as a result. In October he returned his racing licence to the Swiss federation, protesting at what he claimed was a media campaign conducted against him by senior figures there and in the country's Olympic committee.
The federation started an investigation into the charges against Ullrich and in late November it was announced that the anti-doping wing will open disciplinary hearings in early January.
The ProTour Code of Ethics currently prohibits riders under investigating from competing. However, considerable confusion has arisen due to directions from the Spanish judge in charge of the Operación Puerto investigation that evidence gathered cannot be used until the judicial process has been completed.
When McQuaid spoke to Cyclingnewslast week, he stated that he had seen media reports that this position may be changing, with the judge possibly enabling the UCI and national federations to use some of the evidence. However, several days later he is still waiting for official confirmation of this.
"I haven't heard anything official from Spain so as such we wait what we can eventually do," he said. "It would be good to get to use the material we have. But it would be a lot more helpful if we can get additional material from the investigation so we can more clearly understand what exactly took place, and therefore be in a better position to sanction those riders who deserve it.
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
April 2, 2009 - Valverde indignant over possible suspension
April 1, 2009 - Valverde: Italy requests two-year suspension
March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
February 24, 2009 - Spanish federation seeks access to Puerto blood bags
February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
February 19, 2009 - Valverde under criminal investigation
February 11, 2009 - Valverde summonsed for Operación Puerto in Italy
February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto