Ullrich confesses to a ‘big mistake’, admits using services of Eufemiano Fuentes
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Ullrich confesses to a ‘big mistake’, admits using services of Eufemiano Fuentes

by Shane Stokes at 7:18 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Implied doping confession follows earlier admission by Rudy Pevenage

Jan UllrichIt wasn’t the tell all that had been anticipated by some, but Jan Ullrich has followed up on yesterday’s CAS ruling against him by essentially confirming that he broke the rules of his sport via his involvement in the matters leading up to Operacion Puerto.

The 1997 Tour de France winner has, in his own words, sought to draw a line under the matter, and has apologised for his involvement with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, the main figure behind the Spanish doping ring highlighted in the Puerto investigation.

“I wanted to get everything again out of the 2006 Tour. After my Tour victory in 1997 and five second places in the public, the pressure from, the public, from sponsors and from myself was immense. Everyone wanted a second Tour victory, especially after the retirement of Lance Armstrong,” Ullrich said in a statement released on his personal website.

The German stated that he didn’t agree with every point in the ruling, but that he didn’t intend to challenge it. “Not because I agree with all points in the court's opinion, but because I want to finish the issue definitively,” he explained. “I confirm that I had contact with Fuentes. I know that that was a big mistake that I regret very much. For this behaviour, I would like to sincerely apologize to everyone - I'm very sorry. Looking back, I would act differently in certain situations during my career.”

Ullrich’s statement will be welcomed by those who want transparency in the sport, even if it shows that he was one of many riders of that era who didn’t follow the anti-doping rules.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport yesterday declared that the former T-Mobile rider didn’t contest the facts of the case, and concluded that he had indeed worked with Fuentes.

“The CAS has partially upheld the appeal filed by the UCI and has found Jan Ullrich guilty of a doping offence. As a consequence, Jan Ullrich is sanctioned with a two-year period of ineligibility starting retroactively on 22 August 2011,” it stated in its ruling. “Furthermore, all results achieved by the athlete on or after 1 May 2005 until his retirement are annulled.”

Ullrich’s third place in the 2005 Tour was consequently struck from the books. The UCI’s bid to have earlier results going back to 2002 removed was denied by CAS.

In July 2010 his former mentor Rudy Pevanage said that the rider tried to race clean for some time, but was unable to match the pace of others using banned substances.

“At T-Mobile everything stopped after 1998 and I can say that our team was really clean in the years after the Festina Affair,” he told l’Equipe. “But, slowly, looking at the results, we realised that we were lagging behind the other teams, especially the Spanish and the Italians.”

He added that he remained convinced that Ullrich was physically stronger than Lance Armstrong, but the German was unable to match the American in the Tour. He described the latter's metamorphasis after cancer as “so extraordinary.”

Ullrich suffered emotionally after his retirement from cycling, announcing in August 2010 that he had burnout syndrome and would be withdrawing from public life. He since made a recovery, something he attributes to his return to regular cycling, and now takes part in Gran Fondo events. His suspension should not affect his participation in these as they are not UCI regulated.

Jan Ullrich’s full statement is as follows:


The Court of Arbitration has now suspended me for two years. This ruling brings disciplinary proceedings which have lasted almost three years to an end. This sporting legal tug of war was unsatisfactory for all concerned, for myself as for the public. It is incomprehensible to me why we all had to wait so long for this judgment.

I accept the ruling and will not challenge it. Not because I agree with all points in the court's opinion, but because I want to finish the issue definitively. As a personal consequences, I withdrew in 2007 with my retirement from professional cycling. I confirm that I had contact with Fuentes. I know that that was a big mistake that I regret very much. For this behavior, I would like to sincerely apologize to everyone - I'm very sorry. Looking back, I would act differently in certain situations during my career.

I wanted to get everything again out of the 2006 Tour. After my Tour victory in 1997 and five second places in the public, the pressure from, the public, from sponsors and from myself was immense. Everyone wanted a second Tour victory, especially after the retirement of Lance Armstrong.

Shortly before the 2006 Tour, there was a big impact: suspension, headlines, ostracism, house searches, criminal proceedings, complaints. I felt abandoned, like I’d fallen though a sieve. The whole world wanted to put me against the wall and then I went instinctively to cover, withdrawing. As I said, I don’t want to complain that it was all without good reason. Even then, shortly after my suspension, I wanted to publicly admit the mistake I made but my hands were tied. On the advice of my lawyers, and as is usual in such cases, I have been silent on the allegations. Ultimately, this issue poisoned me so much over the years that I was sick and I eventually broke down.

I am glad that finally a decision was made. For me, my active career in cycling has finished and it is very personal for me and my family that this difficult time comes to an end. Today's ruling doesn’t change anything for me and my future plans. I never thought to return to active professional cycling in any capacity. With this statement, I have said everything on this subject and I would like to make no further statements, opinions or interviews in public. For this I ask for your understand. I hereby draw a line under it.

I owe a lot to cycling and will continue to further express my joy and passion for the sport to others. In the future I will therefore hope to be active in several roles in amateur cycling. I look back on my cycling career and accomplishments with pride and look forward to my new career.


Jan Ullrich

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