Jan Ullrich has called for Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France titles to be restored to him, pointing to the prevalence of doping at the time of their rivalry.
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour titles and handed a life ban last October after the publication of the US Anti-Doping Agency’s report on the systematic doping system in place at the US Postal Service team. Armstrong’s Tour wins have not been redistributed, but simply expunged from the record books.
“If it were up to me, I’d give Armstrong back his victories in the Tour,” Ullrich told Sport-Bild magazine, pointing to the precedent that saw Tour organisers ASO remove his former Telekom teammate Bjarne Riis’s name from the roll of honour after his 2007 doping confession, only to restore it the following year.
“Bjarne Riis was given back his victory from 1996. That’s how things were at the time. It’s not helping anyone to have lines struck through the roll of honour,” Ullrich said.
Unlike Armstrong, however, Riis was never formally stripped of his Tour de France title by anti-doping authorities due to the constraints of the statute of limitations.
Ullrich finished second to Armstrong in 2000, 2001 and 2003 (as well as to Riis in 1996), but was himself implicated in the Operacion Puerto blood doping investigation on the eve of the 2006 Tour and never raced again. The German finally confessed to being a client of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes in June of this year.
Last week, a French Senate Commission report also revealed that Ullrich had tested positive for EPO at the 1998 Tour de France following retrospective analysis of stored samples.
In that context, it is no surprise that Ullrich said that he had no interest in being awarded additional Tour victories, although he highlighted that he was keen to retain the titles he won on the road, which include the 1997 Tour and the 2000 Olympic Games road race.
“I’m not claiming any of those [Armstrong] wins. I just want the victories that I obtained on the bike. I don’t want to win anything by default,” said Ullrich.
Reports in the German media on Tuesday suggested that Ullrich will meet in the German National Anti-Doping Agency in August to discuss a fuller confession to doping during his career.
It also emerged that Ullrich could face trial for perjury, a charge which stems a 2008 case in which former Team Coast owner Günther Dahms sued the rider for contract violations. During the case, Ullrich swore under oath that he did not dope while with Team Coast for the first three months of 2003.
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