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Two of Jan Ullrich's former teammates have spoken out about him this week, but they had different...
Two of Jan Ullrich's former teammates have spoken out about him this week, but they had different takes on the German rider. Erik Zabel said that his former in-team rival should be allowed to ride again, while Rolf Aldag called for him to come clean.
Addressing Ullrich and others named in the Operación Puerto affair, Zabel said that all of them should be allowed to ride, or none of them. "As long as there's no evidence against riders who are allegedly involved, then Ullrich and Basso should be allowed to ride, even if there would surely be a big discussion if they were a the start of a race," he told German dpa press agency.
The Milram rider called on the Spanish authorities to "finally present their evidence." The situation at the moment was "anything but optimal - the disturbance accompanies our sport."
Rolf Aldag, now sports director for the T-Mobile team, told Sport Bild that he didn't understand why Ullrich didn't supply a DNA test. "Jan was offered a quick test before the Tour de France 2006. He would even have been able to start. If I had trained so hard and had good chances to win the Tour, I would have ripped a hair off my head to hand in - that doesn't even hurt."
That Ullrich chose not to make the test was not a sign of guilt, he said, but "it leaves a bad aftertaste."
Ullrich is currently looking for a new team for this season, but, according to Aldag, something even more important lies ahead of him. "He has to re-establish his image. Even if he comes out of this with no legal problems, some of it will continue to hang on him. So I would advise him: if he really has something to hide, then he should come clean and tell all." He added, "If he shows that he is sorry, then the public will have sympathy with him, maybe even forgive him. He was under immense pressure, everyone expected a Tour de France victory by Ullrich after Armstrong's retirement. He is not a superman."
While Aldag doesn't believe in a totally clean sport - "I'm not that naive" - he thinks things are getting better. "I believe that the Tour de France 2007 will be the cleanest one in a long time," he concluded.