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T-Mobile explains firing of Ullrich and Sevilla

Team T-Mobile, through the Olaf Ludwig Cycling GmbH, confirmed today that it has terminated its contracts with Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla, effective immediately. In addition, sponsor T-Mobile International AG has taken steps to cancel a contract with Ullrich concerning his association with the firm after his career end.

"In late June Spanish investigators submitted a document that provided clear evidence that Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla had tried to boost their performance through the use of banned substances," states the text of a T-Mobile press release issued on Friday. "Directly after their subsequent suspension, Ullrich and Sevilla declared their intent to prove their innocence. However, right up until the time their contracts were terminated by T-Mobile and the OLC, neither had brought forward any information to exonerate themselves."

Team manager Olaf Ludwig said that this left them will little choice. "Since Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla didn't make any moves to prove their innocence, terminating their contracts was the logical and necessary follow-up to their suspension," he said.

"We have received no new information. Our lawyers, who have been involved with this case since the beginning, have taken this step," said Ludwig, whose only additional comment was, "The lawyers will take care of it all."

"We respect Jan Ullrich's statement that the assumption of innocent until proven guilty applies not just to him, but to all. However sport, especially cycling, has its developed its own ethical and moral rules, which are written into the riders' contracts." The riders' active cooperation in proving their innocence "was expected for this reason," according to Ludwig.

"We are all very disappointed that it had to come to this step," added Christian Frommert, T-Mobile International's director of sports communication. "But the information that we have received doesn't let us make any other decision....The lawyers have checked everything out and are acting now in order to meet deadlines. We would have to had to lift the suspension sometime, or terminate the contracts, as has now happened. Jan Ullrich and Oscar Sevilla had a deadline to prove their innocence. But we don't have any information as to positive doping tests."

T-Mobile also announced that it was distancing itself from a post-career agreement it had made with Jan Ullrich back in early 2004.

The release ended by indicating what evidence existed to suggest that Ullrich, Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage (Ullrich's mentor and former T-Mobile sporting director, already sacked by OLC in early July) were involved in the activities investigated during the Operación Puerto matter.

"Spanish investigators uncovered in May a Madrid-based doping network, which led to the arrest of sports doctor Eufemiano Fuentes among others. Evidence uncovered in house raids, intercepted telephone calls and SMS records have clearly pointed towards the involvement of Jan Ullrich, Oscar Sevilla and Rudy Pevenage in the doping scandal," the release concluded.

Courtesy of Susan Westemeyer

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