World class (and now retired) cyclist Jan Ullrich pops up in the news again. The Canadian Press says that elite German cyclists Jan Ullrich and Andreas Kloeden found themselves named in a preliminary report from Freiburg University. The report led to the dismissal of 2 doctors from the hospital apparently due to doping violations.
Ullrich, the former Tour de France champion, and two-time Tour runner-up Kloeden were mentioned in an interim report released by Freiburg University, which is investigating the operation run for years from their clinic.
Two doctors have already been fired in the case, in which investigators concluded systematic doping was instrumental to the success of Team Telekom, later renamed T-Mobile.
"That is clear from the information that we have seen," the report said, adding doping took place between 1993 and 2006.
The German team produced two Tour de France champions, Ullrich in 1997 and Bjarne Riis in 1996. Riis and several other former Telekom riders confessed to using the endurance boosting drug EPO during those title years.
Replete with subterfuges, this episode shows the covert operations the dopers engage in to avoid detection:
...Ullrich, since retired, has maintained his innocence of any doping. That is also the case for Kloeden - a fellow German who now rides for an Astana team shaken by several doping cases.
Kloeden's name surfaced in connection with a package allegedly mailed from the clinic two years after he signed with Team Telekom in 1998.
"During the year 2000, a medical delivery was sent to the girlfriend of Andrea Kloeden - in haste, overnight," said Hans Joachim Schaefer, chairman of the investigating committee.
The freight cost of 1,000 euros (C$1,581) was booked from a bank account maintained by Lothar Heinrich, one of the clinic's two fired doctors.
Two more clinic doctors have been linked but deny involvement in the operation which provided cyclists with performance-boosters ranging from EPO to own-blood transfusions.
"The criminal energy with which we are confronted is shocking," said Matthias Brandis, head of the university clinic.
Investigators believe Ullrich has a medical record at the clinic, coded under the birthday "Dec. 2, 1937." The German cyclist was born Dec. 2, 1973.
"If you reverse the numerals in the birth year, this old man gets a lot younger," Schaefer said.
Both the federal police and Freiburg district attorney's office are also investigating the clinic, but refused comment on the report.
The committee reported that it looked at 58,800 blood tests between 1995 and 2007 and found 92 positive tests - 57 of them from T-Mobile riders.
The naive continue to think doping isn't cheating, or doping is an innocent method to extend human performance. Doping constitutes a sleazy operation employing organized crime, and unethical health professionals and coaches. If we want to enhance performance with drugs or hormones then we need a dialog on the issue, and agreements on how to perform short term and long term studies.