Retired former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich has been found guilty of doping in relation to a blood-doping scandal that engulfed his sport six years ago and has been banned for two years, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said on Thursday.
The ruling comes three days after the CAS banned another former Tour winner, Spaniard Alberto Contador, for doping.
The Operation Puerto scandal broke in 2006, when Spanish police launched raids that uncovered more than 200 code-named blood bags, some of which were linked to cyclists.
Ullrich, who retired in 2007 after also winning an Olympic gold and silver medal at the Sydney 2000 Games, became the first German to win the Tour de France in 1997.
The rider, a huge sports name in his home country during his prime, also finished second in the world’s greatest race on five occasions, three times behind seven-time champion Lance Armstrong.
With his name linked to Operation Puerto, Ullrich was barred from starting the Tour de France in 2006 and was then fired by his T-Mobile team although he repeatedly denied he had links with Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor at the heart of the investigation.
CAS, however, ruled that, based on the evidence, Ullrich, who had waited for more than five years for a final ruling, had engaged “at least” in blood doping.
The court also annulled all Ullrich’s results from 2005 until his retirement.
“Given the volume, consistency and probative value of the evidence … the Panel came to the conclusion that Jan Ullrich engaged at least in blood doping in violation of Article 15.2 of the UCI [International Cycling Union] anti-doping rules,” CAS said.
It said there had been “documentary evidence” that Ullrich, now 38, had been in contact with Fuentes and had paid him €80 000 ($106 000) for “services that had not been particularised”.
“A DNA analysis confirmed Jan Ullrich’s genetic profile matched blood bags ready for use for doping purposes found in the possession of Dr Fuentes,” CAS said in its decision.
The UCI said it had already annulled Ullrich’s results for the period 2005 to 2007.
“The UCI acknowledges the decision of CAS to impose a suspension of two years on the rider Jan Ullrich starting retroactively on August 2011, following the UCI’s appeal. All results achieved by the athlete on or after May 1 2005 until his retirement, on February 26 2007, are annulled,’ it said in a statement.
“The UCI will now examine in detail the reasoning of the CAS award. In the meantime the UCI will not issue any further comments on the matter.”
CAS rejected calls for a lifetime ban for Ullrich, saying that despite a 2002 doping offence for amphetamines, this was essentially his first violation. They banned him for two years, starting August 22 2011, the day of the CAS hearing. — Reuters