Did Ullrich retire because nothing changed?

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12.11.2007/ According to German weekly magazine 'Focus' Ullrich's former advisor and sports director Rudy Pevenage told former Telekom soigneur Jef d'Hont that Ullrich retired because nothing changed. Focus claims it has 5 cd's on which the conversations between Pevenage and d'Hont are recorded.

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Jan Ullrich durinbg his retirement press conference (picture: Cyclingheroes)

Earlier this year Jef d'Hont  published a book titled: "Confessions of a Cycling Soigneur". The book forced several former Telekom riders (The Telekom team was renamed in T-Mobile team -a subsidiary of Telekom- in 2004) to confess to have taken performance enhancing drugs in the nineties, among them: Bjarne Riis, Erik Zabel and Rolf Aldag. D'Hont claimed in his book that the riders received ped's from team doctors Lothar Heinrich and Andreas Schmid, both doctors later admitted that they had doped riders during the nineties. The doctors worked for the university of Freiburg.

A few months later Jörg Jaksche confessed that he was a client of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. Jaksche also confessed that he took performance enhancing drugs during the time he was riding for the Telekom team. Jaksche said he received ped's from the same team doctors, Lothar Heinrich and Andreas Schmid.

All Telekom confessions were time-barred so nobody got punished by a sports- or criminal court. That changed with the Sinkewitz case. Patrick Sinkewitz was tested positive on testosterone in June 2007 and decided to confess as well. Sinkewitz told the german federal Police (BKA) and the German cycling federation (BDR) that he received a blood transfusion at the university of Freiburg after the first stage of the 2006 Tour de France. That was only two days after Jan Ullrich was suspended by the T-Mobile team because of his alleged involvement in the Fuentes affair. Sinkewitz also told that he was doped by the doctors of the university of Freiburg, Heinrich and Smith.  

In todays German weekly 'Focus' Jef d'Hont says that Rudy Pevenage admitted that Ullrich started with epo in 1996 on the "recommendation of Pevenage and after consulting the team doctors, myself [d'Hont] and Walter Godefroot." Pevenage also told d'Hont that he called Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes during the 2006 Giro d'Italia and that he knows Fuentes for 20 years. The magazine claims that they have 5 cd's on which the conversations between d'Hont and Pevenage are recorded. D'Hont has sworn to Focus that the second voice on the recordings is the voice of Rudy Pevenage. Pevenage gave conflicting information to Focus, first Pevenage told the German magazine: "I can imagine who the source is, I don't want to make further comments about it." Two hours later Pevenage said: "I can't imagine that I have said something like that." In the evening hours Pevenage's lawyer admitted that Pevenage had spoken with d'Hondt but according to his lawyer the content of the conversation between d'Hont and Pevenage was different. At that moment Pevenage and his lawyer did not know that the d'Hont recorded the conversations. D'Hont also provided the state prosecution of Bonn with a copy of the recordings.

On the recordings Pevenage told d'Hont that a disenchanted Ullrich retired because "nothing changed" and he [Ullrich] "couldn't take any risk anymore". Pevenage visited Ullrich during a training camp at Mallorca in February 2007. Ullrich was staying at the same hotel as the riders of his former team (T-Mobile, this was confirmed to Cyclingheroes by other sources as well) and Pevenage told d'Hont that Ullrich said: "And I tell you they were all there, the most important ones are still using the same stuff, epo and everything else. Nothing has changed. I will not start at the Tour." Shortly after this training camp Jan Ullrich announced his retirement at a press conference in Hamburg, Germany. A few days after the press conference Ullrich said on a video at his personal website that he was missing about 5%  to perform on a top level...

Its not the first time that there are reports about possible doping at the T-Mobile team in 2007. The team started a massive pr campaign after team manager Bob Stapleton took over from Olaf Ludwig. Lothar Heinrich and Andreas Schmid developed an anti-doping programm for the team and the team insisted they were working for a clean cycling now. The anti-doping programm was installed in 2007 and Sergej Honchar was sacked by the team after internal controls found abnormal blood values. But on Novemer 1 the state prosecuter of Freiburg, Wolfgang Maier told German newsagency DPA that Patrick Sinkewitz  received his last injection with cortisone in April 2007. Its not necessarily doping as Sinkewitz might have had a medical exception for the use of cortisone. However Sinkewitz lawyer Michael Lehner told DPA that he is convinced that the T-Mobile team continued with doping by using sham medical certificates until team doctors Heinrich and Schmid were sacked in May this year.

T-Mobile is considering to terminate the sponsorship contract with the team, a decision is expected in the coming week.

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Special coverage Jan Ullrich retires

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