“When will this end. They force this guy into retirement, pointing the big hairy, wagging, middle finger at Ullrich. Either he did or he did not. Sounds to me like they have no proof better than what they presented in the Landis hearing. Are they worried that Landis is getting off, and now any of their weak evidence will not hold up in court against any cyclist? Sounds to me like the only bust that is going to stick is when the Puerto affair goes away. Lets try again another day guys”.
Ullrich charges may be dropped because of Wide-spread Telekom doping, means individual charge would be unfair, says prosecutor Britta Bannenberg, the legal expert who launched a fraud charge against Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich last July, said on Friday revelations about practices in the Telekom team may lead to those charges being dropped.
Bannenberg, a Criminology specialist, lodged a complaint in July 2006 against the 1997 Tour de France winner after packets of blood found in the offices of doping-scandal doctor Eufemiano Fuentes were linked to the German. But Bannenberg is having second thoughts after it emerged the use of EPO, the blood-booster agent, was rife within Telekom.
Erythropoietin, stimulates the production of red blood cells, increasing oxygen-carrying capacity and therefore improving endurance. Three former Telekom riders — Bert Dietz, Christian Henn and Udo Boelts – admitted this week they had taken EPO while, T-Mobile, the team’s current name, suspended two of its doctors last month over allegations that they administered EPO while working for Telekom in the 1990s.
Freiburg university fired Schmid and Heinrich, who ran the institution’s drug-testing centre, on Thursday after the pair admitted giving Telekom cyclists EPO and the university have promised a full investigation.
“It is difficult to talk about fraud of an employee when it seems the team knew that doping was going in in their ranks,” said Bannenberg on German television.
Bonn’s Office of Public Prosecution, which is handling the case, said they would review their evidence in light of the new admissions.
“Originally, we were of the opinion the directors of T-Mobile did not know about the doping practices, but a review is underway to determine if that is still the case,” explained a spokesman of the Office of Public Prosecution.
Ullrich retired in February after his involvement in the Fuentes scandal and has always protested his innocence. But the sport has been rocked this week after cycling legend German Erik Zabel admitted on Thursday he had taken EPO while competing for Telekom in 1996.
“I took EPO in 1996 but I stopped taking it after a week because of secondary effects,” a visibly emotional Zabel told a press conference. “It was my only experience with doping in my whole career.”
Zabel, 36, once one of the world’s leading sprinters, said he was unsure what the future held for him at his current team, Milram of Italy, but that he had decided he wanted to come clean.
“I don’t know what is going to happen to me in the future but the time had come to tell the truth about the past,” he said.
Zabel’s former Telekom colleague and the current manager of the T-Mobile team, Rolf Aldag, confessed at the same press conference that he had taken EPO between 1995 and 2002.
Aldag admitted he had lied in the past when he had denied doping.
“I am sorry, I lied to the press and the TV because I said to myself I would not be caught.
“In 1994, I discussed with several teammates what was happening in cycling and I decided to actively seek out doping products. I began taking EPO in 1995,” Aldag said.
Aldag will keep his job at T-Mobile after team boss Bob Stapleton rejected his offer to resign.