Disgraced German cyclist Jan Ullrich has admitted to having met Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who was at the centre of a blood doping ring, calling it a “massive mistake.”
The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Thursday handed down a two-year ban on Ullrich for a blood doping offence, also annulling all of his results from May 1, 2005.
Ullrich, the former T-Mobile lead rider who won the 1997 Tour de France and retired in November 2007, was linked to the Operation Puerto scandal in 2006 after samples of his blood were found during a police raid on Fuentes.
“I confirm that I was in contact with Fuentes,” Ullrich said on Friday.
“I know it was a massive mistake and I regret it enormously. I want to say sorry to everybody.”
Ullrich said he had kept mum on Fuentes following legal advice.
“I had the impression that the whole world wanted me. So I committed the mistake of not having publicly admitted (meeting Fuentes), but my hands were tied. On the advice of my lawyers, I kept my silence on the accusations,” he said.
Ullrich added that he would not appeal his two-year ban, saying he wanted “to turn the page.”
He also admitted: “If I was to re-do it, I would handle some parts of my career differently.”
CAS secretary-general Matthieu Reeb said Thursday that Ullrich's results would be scratched from May 1, 2005, “because it is established that Jan Ullrich was fully engaged with the doping programme of Doctor Fuentes at least from that date.”
Apart from his 1997 Tour win and his third-placed showing in 2005, Ullrich also finished second in the world's toughest and most prestigious race on five occasions (1996, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2003) and fourth in 2004.
Other principal victories Ullrich notched up were podium-topping showings in the 1999 Tour of Spain and the 2004 Tour of Switzerland, as well as claiming Olympic gold at the 2000 Sydney Games in the road race and silver in the time-trial.