Remember that talented young rider Jan Ullrich who used to finish second (or third) to Armstrong all the time baring that one time he won the Tour in 1997 when Armstrong wasn’t racing? Well, here on 9 February 2012 he has been found guilty of doping offences related to the 2006 Operation Puerto investigation and had all the results he achieved since May 2005 annulled after the Court of Arbitration for Sport upheld a UCI appeal into the cyclist. In the biggest case of “so what?” since Sammy Sanchez was awarded a podium spot for the 2010 Tour on Monday, Ullrich was also banned from the sport until 22 August 2013 — not for life as the UCI had hoped — though they might have well just banned him until tomorrow afternoon given the difference it will make to a rider who has been retired for over half a decade.
It would be like finding out someone from the 70’s had doped and banning him from now until 2013. It would be like me getting fired from a job I quit several years ago. It also raises the question as to whether they will now go after Bjarne Riis, Richard Virenque or the several hundred other riders who may or may not have dopped across cycling’s long and infamous history? Yes, I know, statutes of limitations and all that guff, but you get the point.
Actually one fan made a brilliant comment at the bottom of one article I read. He said it is like giving him ‘suspended detention and lines for finally admitting to copying Stephen’s French test in 1989’. As he so aptly put it: ‘Yes Miss, I copied him almost word for word, and you never questioned why my pass rate went from 45% to 90%, you fool.’ He went on to describe how twenty years later, once the school was short of some cash they came after him and, along with a financial penalty, he is now banned from playtime, use of the bunson burners and has lost his prefect duties.
So what is the hard hitting ramifications of Jan Ullrich’s penalties other than the fact his 10,000 Swiss francs fine seems little more than a payment to cover the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s 2012 annual Christmas party? Well, he is stripped of his third place in the 2005 Tour de France, along with his second place from that years stage 20 time trial though no word on his 58th place on the final stage into Paris.
Above and beyond that Ullrich has been stripped of his overall win in the 2006 Tour de Suisse and a hatful of other stage victories. Though, as I said with Contador, they can take your results, but they can’t take back all those kisses from the podium girls.
The upshot of the 2005 Tour to be specific is that Francisco Mancebo — yes that Mancebo, that was himself linked heavily to Operation Puerto — has been bumped up onto the podium, though no announcement from the UCI on bringing Armstrong, Ivan Basso and now Mancebo back to Paris to photograph the new 2005 podium for the record books. In fact, the remainder of the new top ten reads like a doping rap sheet: 4. Alexandre Vinokourov, 5. Levi Leipheimer, 6. Michael Rasumssen, 7. Cadel Evans, 8. Floyd Landis, 9. Oscar Pereiro, 10. Christophe Moreau. I think only Cadel Evans has so far gone through his career without being linked to a doping scandal or indeed an actual postitive test at some point or another. So should we chalk that up to Evans’s first Tour win with last year being his second? Or should we just assume guilt to all and hand the title to the Lanterne Rouge from that year, Iker Flores who finished some 4 hours, 20 minutes behind Armstrong?
There is no doubt Ullrich was up to no good. His blood was found in the offices of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes — the doctor from the Operation Puerto investigation — and when DNA analysis was conducted it was ruled that to a probability of one in six billion. Given the globes population is seven billion, I suppose Ullrich could have argued that the blood belonged to some bloke in the Southern jungles of Cambodia or an Eskimo in the artic circle, but he didn’t and he seems happy enough to get this over with. “Tomorrow is a happy day for me. I am happy to have the decision after waiting for almost six years,” he chirped just yesterday before heading down to the local bakery.