Those are the words of UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani in the wake of the news that Lance Armstrong’s federal case had collapsed. So it seems that the UCI have struck a major blow against anti-doping that Jan Ullrich, the retired 1997 Tour de France winner, has just been banned from cycling for two years from August 22nd 2011, and had his results from 2005 up to his official retirement in 2007 stripped.
The latest, and probably last, victim of Operación Puerto, in which every Spanish rider involved was acquitted by their own courts, and Alejandro Valverde/Valv. Piti was only caught due to the intervention of the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI)* learnt of his fate today, more than five years after the original allegations came to light. In January 2010, the Disciplinary Chamber of Antidoping Schweiz (Ullrich lives in Switzerland and rode under a Swiss license) closed the case on Ullrich, ruling that Swiss Olympic had no jurisdiction over the rider since his retirement.
The UCI then appealed this decision, even pushing for a lifetime ban for Ullrich on the basis of his previous six-month suspension for out-of-competition amphetamine use. CAS dismissed this possibility, as the infraction would not constitue a doping violation under the rules of the present day and was thus not eligible to be taken into account when determining a punishment under the UCI’s ‘second strike’ rule.
Ullrich is now ineligible to work in cycling for one year and six months.
Francisco Mancebo, named in Puerto but cleared by the Spanish courts, must be happy that he inherits Ullrich’s third place at the 2005 Tour de France, the major result that Ullrich has had taken away.
The top 10 of that race makes for some quite ridiculous reading in light of this decision:
1: Lance Armstrong
2: Ivan Basso
3. Francisco Mancebo
4. Alexandre Vinokourov
5. Levi Leipheimer
6. Michael Rasmussen
7. Cadel Evans
8. Floyd Landis
9. Oscar Pereiro
10. Christophe Moreau
It would seem that Carpani’s statement should have been applied to this case too. What is the point in taking away one riders achievement when the rest of the result looks as it does?
Six of those riders have been sanctioned at some point in their careers and Armstrong, Mancebo and Pereiro have each been caught up in various scandals and accusations. Cadel Evans is the only rider in the 2005 Tour de France top 10 that hasn’t had his name tarnished by doping.
As Der Kaiser himself said “Whoever still can’t put one and one together about what happened in cycling is beyond my help”
*Michele Scarponi/Zapatero, Jörg Jaksche/JJ and Ivan Basso/Birillo are the only other riders who have been sanctioned as a result of the original investigation by the Guardia Civil.