Pevenage admits Ullrich doped, visited Fuentes
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Thursday, July 08, 2010

Pevenage admits Ullrich doped, visited Fuentes

by Conal Andrews at 4:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
 
German rider was part of Operación Puerto

Jan UllrichFour years after both he and Jan Ullrich were implicated in Operación Puerto, Rudy Pevenage has finally admitted that he helped the rider to dope. “I never bought or sold doping products,” he said to l’Equipe. “I only organised the trips for Jan.”

German police revealed last year that Ullrich visited Spanish doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes 24 times between 2003 and 2006, with this information being discovered after they seized Pevenage’s computer.

The latter said that the decision to use the Spanish doping doctor was taken after the rider tried to cut back on his consumption of banned products, but found that he was no longer as competitive as he had been. “At T-Mobile everything stopped after 1998 and I can say that our team was really clean in the years after the Festina Affair. But, slowly, looking at the results, we realised that we were lagging behind the other teams, especially the Spanish and the Italians,” said Pevenage, who won a stage and took the points competition in the 1980 Tour de France.

“Why should I lie any longer?” the Belgian asked. “I just want to make it clear that at the time, I never had the impression that I did something wrong. I knew many customers of Fuentes, including some good riders who were themselves in the Tour in 2006. I also knew who went to other doctors than Fuentes.”

Pevenage confirmed that Ullrich had planned to end his career in 2006. He had hoped to win the Tour de France for one last time, then hang up his racing wheels. He said that the rider felt a great deal of pressure and that this impacted on his ability to race to the best of his abilities. “With all the money he earned, Jan could not afford to be beaten by second-class riders. He was stressed and even put on weight because of that. Now that he no longer races at all, he is thinner than in the middle of the season. Stress poisoned his career.”

Pevenage said that he remains convinced that Ullrich was physically stronger than Lance Armstrong, but the German was unable to match the American in the Tour. He described his metamorphasis after cancer as “so extraordinary.”

Ullrich has not raced since mid-2006, when he won the Tour de Suisse. However he still faces disciplinary proceedings, as the UCI has appealed to CAS in order to reverse a Swiss Olympic Committee decision not to punish the rider.

Ullrich showed his ability in 1993 when he won the amateur world championship. He was second in his first Tour de France in 1996, despite working for team-mate Bjarne Riis, and then won the race in 1997. At the time he was tipped to dominate the sport for many years, but never reached the same heights again. However he did win the 1999 Vuelta a España and the Olympic road race in 2000.

He has always denied doping, but has hinted that he would speak fully about the issue at some point in the future.

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