German former professional cyclist Jan Ullrich may lose his Sydney Olympic medals after recently confessing to blood doping, according to a report from AFP.
Ullrich admitted to blood doping in an an interview with German weekly Focus on Monday, saying he “had access to treatment from [Eufemiano] Fuentes”, the Spanish doctor at the heart of the 2006 Operacion Puerto investigation. In April, Fuentes was sentenced to a year in jail for performing blood transfusions on cyclists.
“At that time, nearly everyone was using doping substances and I used nothing that the others were not using,” Ullrich said, but insisted he had used no substances other than his own blood.
As a result, he could be stripped of his road race gold medal and time trial silver medal from the 2000 Sydney Olympics, according to Thomas Bach, president of the German Olympic Federation and a vice president of the International Olympic Committee.
“We’ll check everything again carefully and meticulously,” Bach told German daily Die Welt.
Bach said Ullrich’s “so-called confession was nothing more than confirmation of facts that have already been held in Sports court rulings and in court cases. However, we will look again at exactly where the starting point was.”
According to IOC regulations, an athlete can only be stripped of a medal in the eight years after the event, but that seems to be more of a guideline than a rule. Lance Armstrong’s third place in the 2000 Olympic time trial was cancelled after he confessed to doping in January.
Ullrich losing his medals would put him in some exalted company. As well as Lance Armstrong, top Italian Davide Rebellin lost his 2008 road race silver medal after testing positive for CERA and Tyler Hamilton handed in his 2004 time trial gold medal to the US Anti-Doping Agency in 2011, before being formally stripped of the title in 2012.
Should Ullrich lose his Sydney 2000 title, the gold medal would pass to 2012 Olympic road race champion Alexandre Vinokourov. Vinokourov served a two-year ban from 2007 to 2009 after testing positive for homologous blood doping (taking a transfusion from another person) in the 2007 Tour de France.
John has been writing about bikes and cycling for over 30 years since discovering that people were mug enough to pay him for it rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work.
He was heavily involved in the mountain bike boom of the late 1980s as a racer, team manager and race promoter, and that led to writing for Mountain Biking UK magazine shortly after its inception. He got the gig by phoning up the editor and telling him the magazine was rubbish and he could do better. Rather than telling him to get lost, MBUK editor Tym Manley called John’s bluff and the rest is history.
Since then he has worked on MTB Pro magazine and was editor of Maximum Mountain Bike and Australian Mountain Bike magazines, before switching to the web in 2000 to work for CyclingNews.com. Along with road.cc founder Tony Farrelly, John was on the launch team for BikeRadar.com and subsequently became editor in chief of Future Publishing’s group of cycling magazines and websites, including Cycling Plus, MBUK, What Mountain Bike and Procycling.
John has also written for Cyclist magazine, edited the BikeMagic website and was founding editor of TotalWomensCycling.com before handing over to someone far more representative of the site's main audience.
He joined road.cc in 2013. He lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.