Christian Frommert, director of sports communications at T-Mobile, has given more details on why his team excluded Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla, and Rudy Pevenage from the Tour in the wake of the Operacion Puerto affair.
In an interview on t-mobile-team.com, Frommert explained, "We received documents from the Tour organisers A.S.O. this morning, which raised substantial doubts about the recent statements of Ullrich, Sevilla and Pevenage. Our stance was always unequivocal: If we are presented with evidence, which leads us to doubt the credibility of one or other of our riders, then we act upon it immediately. That is the case now.
When asked what the documents contained, Frommert replied, "They clearly point to contact between the implicated trio and the doctor at the centre of the probe, Eufemiano Fuentes. Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla as well as Rudy Pevenage have denied this so far and also testified to it in a written statement. There are clear guidelines arranged with the riders, which leave no room for interpretation. This was also clear to Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage. So we had to react."
Team manager Olaf Ludwig informed the riders and Pevenage just after 9:30am. "I was not there myself, but I had the chance to talk to Jan Ullrich at midday," said Frommert. "Of course, he was feeling down and continued to insist on his innocence. I made it clear to him that there were no alternatives given the facts at hand.
"We suspended Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage for the time being. Of course, it's up to them to prove their innocence."
When asked whether this will have an impact on the team's sponsorship, Frommert said, "The commitment is not directly affected by this. However, the decision-makers at T-Mobile will meet after the Tour to discuss about the situation. With the measures taken today, we are living up to our responsibility towards making cycling a clean sport."
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