By Susan Westemeyer
Five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault said that "At this point in time, he [German Jan Ullrich] is a cheat. It is up to him to prove that he has not cheated." The Frenchman did not mince his words in an interview published by Sport Bild on Wednesday, January 31.
When specifically asked if 1997 Tour winner had done "dishonest things," Hinault responded, "I am disappointed in him. I would never have thought that he would do something like that. But people want to earn money, so they consider anything to be right. There has to be an end to this sort of thing!"
Hinault continued that he questioned whether Ullrich should be allowed to start in the 2007 Tour de France. "The riders under suspicion should first take a DNA test, then they can be allowed to start. That goes for Ullrich, too." And also for Ivan Basso? "Naturally. He is equally under suspicion."
The Frenchman, who works for ASO (organizers of the Tour de France), has theories as to how to successfully combat doping. "Every rider has to be afraid that he will lose his place in pro cycling when he does something dumb. Lifetime bans help. And fines. That would help a lot of riders to think twice."
Italian Ivan Basso was heard by his national federation, FCI, given the green light to race when his case was officially shelved on October 27, 2006. Meanwhile, Ullrich is stuck in legal limbo between the German and Swiss federations, with a hearing to be scheduled by the latter federation, with whom he had his racing license.