ULLRICH BUYS HIS WAY OUT OF TROUBLE
Jan Ullrich has agreed to pay a six-figure sum in exchange for German prosecutors closing the fraud investigation they began following suspicions that Ullrich worked with Dr Fuentes and was involved in Operacion Puerto.
German law does not recognize doping as a criminal offence, so prosecutors pursued fraud charges instead, investigating if Ullrich illegally paid Fuentes for his services.
Ullrich has always denied any wrongdoing and refuted claims by the Bonn investigators that blood discovered as part of the investigation belonged to him. Under German law, Ullrich had the option to settle the matter out of court and did so when the investigation reached a critical point.
"The Bonn prosecutor, with the agreement of the seventh Bonn chamber of appeal, has decided to lay aside procedures in the case of suspected fraud targeting Jan Ullrich," the prosecutor's office said on Monday.
The prosecutor revealed Ullrich paid a ‘six-figure sum’ to end the investigation but refused to say exactly how much. It has been widely speculated in the German media to be around 250,000 Euro.
In a message on his website, Ullrich again claimed he was innocent of fraud and doping and said he was happy the investigation is over.
"I was always a fair sportsman, the payment is not a confession of any guilt. The state prosecutor did not demand either. It cannot be considered an admission of guilt because no one was betrayed,” he said.
"A fight to get an acquittal would have cost me a lot more money. I was willing to accept a financial sanction only because the lion's share of the amount is going to charity. My wife and I are happy to at long last put it behind us."
Ullrich won the 1996 Tour de France but retired in 2007 after being forced to miss the 2006 Tour following the explosion of the Operacion Puerto investigation in Spain.
The decision in Germany means Ullrich is no longer under investigation for the fraud allegations related to Operacion Puerto still faces other investigations in Germany and Switzerland. He could also be investigated as part of the work by the Italian anti-doping investigators.