by Susan Westemeyer
Jan Ullrich has explained his withdrawal from the Swiss Cycling federation as a move of protest against an organization that has treated him unfairly, and he may ask for damages. "Jan Ullrich will no longer allow his personal rights to be kicked with both feet by Swiss Cycling," a statement on his website proclaims. "The Swiss federation has steadfastly ignored his previous complaints. Jan Ullrich has suffered under this handling of the situation. The pro cyclist reserves the rights to sue for damages."
He says that the federation claims to have the notarized documents from the UCI. "In actuality, Swiss Cycling does not have any documents which would justify a proceeding against Jan Ullrich. The charges against the German are entirely based on a falsified document from the Spanish police," he says, without specifying which document he means.
However, most observers disagree with his interpretation and see his act as a withdrawal from more than just the federation. The German press agency sid calls it a "panic reaction," brought about by the federation's statement that it would not cancel its investigation. "He had probably hoped for a dismissal after the acquittal of Giro winner Ivan Basso in Italy," sid says.
When he left the federation, he also automatically lost his pro license, but he claims to have "contacts with other cycling federations as to a license for 2007," without saying which federations or countries might be involved. "Jan would naturally move out of Switzerland if he changed to another federation," said his manager Wolfgang Strohband. "He is married to Sara, not to Switzerland."
The sid further adds that "Ullrich may have ultimately played away not only his professional future but also the last remains of his believability with his withdrawal. Rudolf Scharping, president of the Bundes Deutscher Radfahrer, could hardly believe the news, and refused to comment on it." Ullrich's former team, T-mobile, also refused to comment.
Fellow German cyclist and CSC star Jens Voigt said he was "pretty fed up" with the whole Ullrich situation. He told www.sport1.de, "That's why I don't follow it so closely any more. But Ullrich will surely have his reasons for taking this step." Lothar Heinrich, who worked with Ullrich for many years as T-Mobile's team doctor, said, "I am personally very disappointed. After everything that has happened, I would have problems with it if he were to ride again."