Confusion continues surrounding Ullrich investigation

By Susan Westemeyer

The confusion surrounding the Jan Ullrich investigation continues to grow. When one publication claims practically irrefutable evidence against him, another claims his absolute innocence. And the director of Swiss Cycling is quoted as giving contradictory statements. Meanwhile, Ullrich has released a statement condemning the increasing confusion.

"I will defend myself against the continuing character assassination campaign," he said Saturday on his web site referring to the Swiss Cycling campaign. Despite Swiss Cycling statements to the contrary, he said,"Actually, so far no proceeding against Jan Ullrich has been opened." Ulrich says that claims that the federation has finally received the proper documents "are false. Obviously the UCI simply put their stamp on the documents they had already sent the Swiss federation. The contradictory statements from Swiss Cycling raise the false impression that Jan Ullrich is the object of an investigation in Switzerland."

The latest round of evidence was published by the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Saturday, as previously reported. The newspaper claims to have various documents stemming from a "meeting of experts" in Madrid the end of September. The investigators are "ready at any time" to provide "many examples of doping actions by Mr. Ullrich," the paper says.

One detail shows how completely the Spaniards have come to know about Ullrich. "They have found four telephone numbers that Ullrich used, three from mobile phones and one from a fixed-line network," the paper reports.

The documents show that Jan Ullrich is only one member of "a large game of deception," according to Süddeutsche Zeitung. In addition to Fuentes' center in Madrid, "they found an outlet of the doping network in northern Italy, apparently in Treviso, another one in Orleans in France–and one in Frankfurt."

But according to the Spiegel magazine, those documents from Madrid stem not from official German or Swiss investigators, but from German anti doping crusader Warner Franke. Franke allegedly traveled to Madrid with an attorney in September and met with the Spanish investigators.

In addition, there are the contradictory statements attributed to the Swiss federation and its director, Lorenz Schläfli. Earlier this week, the federation released a statement saying it had received the final documents and turned them over to the appropriate committee. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung from Saturday quotes Schläfli as saying, "It's taking a long time," but, "We won't let it simply fall from the table," and that he is convinced that there is enough evidence "if you take the trouble to look for it."

But the BILD tabloid quotes Schläfli as saying that "Ullrich could have ridden in Lombardi, if he had a team," and that "under sports law there will be no proceeding against Ullrich." Even the German sports-fraud investigation isn't going so well. BILD quotes a press spokeswoman for the Bonn prosecuting attorneys office as saying, "It is a very difficult process."

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