Swiss open doping proceedings against Jan Ullrich
Nation put on avalanche alert as stable door prepares to slam
On the day that Lance Armstrong so nearly donned the yellow jersey at the 2009 tour his greatest rival Jan Ullrich also made the news too, when the Swiss anti-doping body announced disciplinary action has now been started against the former Tour winner for his alleged involvement in the Operation Puerto blood doping scandal.
Ullrich retired from professional cycling in 2007 in the wake of Operation Puerto in which he was implicated and for which he was fired from him team, T-Mobile on the eve of the 2006 Tour. Last year a German investigation into whether he defrauded the T-Mobile team by taking performance-enhancing drugs was dropped. For that he might have faced prison time.
If convicted of the Swiss charges he faces a life time ban from professional cycling, that's because he already has one doping conviction on his record – he was banned in 2002 after testing positive for amphetamines, which he allegedly took in a night club.
The German, who won the Tour at the tender age of 23 back in 1997 and seemed destined to dominate it for a decade – until the advent of Lance Armstrong – was unfazed by the news commenting on his website:
"Three whole years have now gone by since the first public announcement of a 'lifetime ban' soon,"
"Although I haven't participated since then in professional cycling, this news is being put about during the Tour de France - that is more than a surprising 'coincidence'."
"I view this matter calmly, because I have now gained the necessary distance and am confident of being able to draw a line soon under the past three years," Ullrich added. "I will continue to fight for this aim and will face this current challenge."
To say that Ullrich's career has been a rollercoaster ride would be something of an understatement and the ride looks to be achieving the unusual trick of continuing long after his actual cycling career came to and end.
According to Swiss Cycling federation director Viktor Andermatt the decision to prosecute is a matter of ethics and principle a view backed up by officials from Swiss Olympic the body which overseas the fight against sports doping in Swizerland. Ullrich raced on a Swiss licence and still lives there.