By Susan Westemeyer
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.
More information will follow regarding Jan Ullrich on Cyclingnews.
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Images by Roberto Bettini/www.bettiniphoto.net
Images by Fotoreporter Sirotti
- 2006, Jan Ullrich riding in one of his last races