By Susan Westemeyer
"This morning a total of ten houses and offices were searched as part of an investigation directed at persons in cycling sport being led by the public prosecutor in Bonn," the German Bundeskriminalamt announced Wednesday afternoon. Among those buildings searched were Jan Ullrich's house in Scherzingen, Switzerland, the home and office of his manager, Wolfgang Strohband, in Hamburg, Germany, and the Belgian home of Ullrich's advisor, Rudy Pevenage.
The prosecutor's office also appeared at the T-Mobile offices in Bonn, Germany, and requested documents. "We cooperated with them, since it is in our interest," said T-Mobile spokesman Christian Frommert.
The office said that it has opened a fraud investigation, which is being handled by the BKA. "Based on the investigations conducted by Spanish officials, the persons involved are being charged with having used various performance enhancing products, which are forbidden in cycling, One of the parties involved is alleged to have provided help and in particular obtained the products," according to the BKA's press release.
"There is the possibility that the named persons have been guilty of fraud, in that they deceived those with whom they have contracts through the use of prohibited doping methods. In this way they have received payments under existing contracts, which they would not have received if the contract partners had known of the use of the prohibited doping methods. " The investigation is also looking into violations of the prescription drug laws.
Strohband confirmed the search of his facilities. "They have been with me since 9:30 this morning and are taking papers and documents. They're still not finished. This is an unbelievable situation, which someone will have to answer for," he said.
Ullrich is on his honeymoon and was not at home when the search was conducted. It was not immediately known whether searches were conducted at the homes of Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage, the other former T-Mobile persons involved in the Fuentes doping scandal.
Swiss still waiting for Ullrich papers
The Swiss cycling federation is still waiting for the certified documents from the UCI concerning Jan Ullrich and his possible involvement in the Fuentes doping affair. "We should finally get them in a few days," Swiss Cycling spokesman Lorenz Schläfli told the dpa press agency. "I have no doubt that there will be enough material to open proceedings against Ullrich."
Schläfli said he did not believe in an "artificial prolonging of the procedure by the UCI. Rather, he said, the delay is based on the different interests of the various investigating bodies. "The Spanish officials are not investigating riders for doping violations, but are looking into medication violations and endangering the public health, as it is written in their laws."
But Ullrich still optimistic
Despite of all the trouble around him, Jan Ullrich is planning to return to the pro racing scene, he just doesn't yet know with which team. He told Bunte magazine that he has several offers to consider. "I only have to decide which team I want to ride for. He is convinced that "Everything will be decided in my favour - I am sure of that. What is happening to me now is simply not right. I am innocent."
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