An Austrian team and Austrian license for Ullrich?

Jaksche's case moves forward

By Susan Westemeyer

Would Jan Ullrich be willing to return to pro racing in a Professional Continental team? Apparently so. The small Austrian Team Volksbank-Vorarlberg has had an inquiry on his behalf. "It's true, we have had an inquiry from a middleman," team manager Thomoas Kofler said on Vorarlberg Online.

Kofler continued, "We have talked about it without going in to financial details." And Kofler wouldn't have to worry too much about those financial details, noting that a private sponsor has agreed to provide a specific sum. But one thing is sure for Kofler: "Before any concrete contract negotiations can be held, Jan must be cleared by the UCI."

Henry Bertel, Chairman of the Board of Directors of team sponsor Volksbank, echoed those sentiments. "It is important to us that the riders identify themselves with Volksbank," remarked Bertel. "The pressure on the riders must never be so strong that they feel they need to use doping products to achieve their desired results. When we extended our sponsoring contract we spelled that out in detail and put it in a clause allowing us to cancel the contract. We are providing a serious financial obligation and expect in return a clean sport."

Meanwhile, Austrian cycling federation general secretary Rudolph Massak repeated that he would give Ullrich a license if the cyclist moved to Austria. "That would be in the realm of my possibilities. When there's nothing that speaks against it, if he's not suspended somewhere, then he would receive license for a year as of 2007," he told the German newspaper Die Tageszeitung. "That shouldn't be understood as an invitation, but every athlete has a right to be handled fairly."

Massak also noted that the federation is working on the Jörg Jaksche case, the German rider living in Austria who was also named in Operación Puerto. He says that he has received documents from the UCI in Spanish and French. "I am having a translation made of this 70-page dossier and then we will have a basis on which we can open a proceeding against Jaksche, or not."

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

Cyclingnews' complete coverage of Operación Puerto

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