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Franke files further claims concerning Ullrich and Fuentes

By Susan Westemeyer

Did Jan Ullrich fly to Madrid to visit Dr. Fuentes on May 10, a rest day in the Giro d'Italia, and the day after the peloton transferred from Belgium to Italy? That's what German anti-doping crusader Dr. Werner Franke claims to have been told by Spanish investigators, according to the German magazine Tagesspiegel.

Franke has sent an affidavit to the German prosecuters' office in Hamburg, who has forwarded it to its counterpart in Bonn, which is in turn investigating Ullrich for fraud. In his filing, Franke says that he and his attorney met in Madrid on Sept. 29 with Enrique Gomez Bastida, Operation Puerto chief investigator. Gomez allegedly told Franke that Ullrich had been Fuentes' client since at least 2003, paying 120,000 Euros annually.

The affidavit further claims that the Guardia Civil discussed the "branch offices" of the doping networks. Franke wrote that Gomez described how the various "offices" kept in touch using a system of telephone cards "and also noted four telephone numbers used by Herr Jan Ullrich, including a landline number."

These "branch offices" were in Frankfurt, Germany, Orleans, France, and an unnamed city in northern Italy, presumably Treviso. In general, Franke's affidavit said, "at each location or hotel had a -- small -- group of cyclists associated with it." However, certain -- especially prominent -- cyclists were handled by Dr. Fuentes directly in Spain, normally in Madrid."

Ullrich's manager Wolfgang Strohband pooh-poohed the charges, saying, "There is so much fantasy involved here that we won't comment any more. There is so much speculation, we don't have anything more to say."

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