Retired Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich admitted to knowing a Spanish doctor at the heart of a blood doping scandal on Friday, a day after the German cyclist was banned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport for two years.
Ullrich had repeatedly denied any contact with Eufemiano Fuentes, the doctor who had been investigated as part of Spain’s Operation Puerto. The scandal broke in 2006 when Spanish police raids uncovered more than 200 code named blood bags, some of which were linked to cyclists.
CAS said on Thursday Ullrich had contact with the doctor, paid him 80,000 euros ($106,000) for unspecified services and the German’s genetic material matched blood bags in the doctor’s possession.
“I confirm that I had contact to Fuentes,” Ullrich posted on his website (www.janullrich.de).
“I know that was a grave mistake which I regret. I want to apologise for this behaviour. In hindsight I would have acted differently in some situations during my career.”
The now 38-year-old Ullrich said the pressure on him ahead of the 2006 Tour had been great and that he had been desperate to be at his strongest.
“After my win in 1997 and five second place finishes the pressure from the public, sponsors and myself was immense. Everyone wanted a second Tour win especially after the retirement of Lance Armstrong,” Ullrich said.