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T-Mobile Sacks Ullrich Mentor

DW staff (kh) July 10, 2006

T-Mobile has sacked its sporting director Rudy Pevenage after he was implicated with top German cyclist Jan Ullrich in a Spanish blood-doping scandal.

Rudy Pevenage, a long time adviser to Jan Ullrich, has been fired amid the doping scandalImage: AP

T-Mobile spokesperson Christian Frommert said on Sunday that Pevenage's contract was terminated because the "evidence that he's guilty is quite clear."

Frommert said there was proof Pevenage had contacts with Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, who allegedly provided an illegal blood-boosting service and doping products to athletes.

The scandal erupted in late May after the Spanish Civil Guard raided a number of addresses to find large quantities of anabolic steroids, laboratory equipment used for blood transfusions and more than 100 packs of frozen blood.

Pevenage lied about contact to doping doctor

Pevenage had denied all contact with Fuentes. "He lied to all of us," Frommert said.

Pevanage had already been suspended, along with Ullrich just before start of the Tour de France in Strasbourg on July 1.

Jan Ullrich unter Dopingverdacht
Ullrich has denied dopingImage: AP

On Sunday, T-Mobile made no announcement about the fate of Ullrich, who has denied using doping products or techniques.

New evidence Ullrich doped

However, German media on Monday released details of tapped telephone conversations between Pevenage and Fuentes. The transcripts, taken from Spanish police files, indicate Ullrich's involvement in the doping scandal.

On May 20, Pevenage allegedly called Fuentes to tell him he had spoken to a third person.

"This third person is interested in having more," said Pevenage. "Even if it's only half."

Jan Ullrich is suspected of being this third person, because in a conversation on the May 18 between the two men, Pevenage said to Fuentes "The third person has won." On May 18, Ullrich won the stage in the Giro d'Italia.

Damning evidence from police files

A further document mentions a "Jan" who paid 2,970 euros for "Vino, Nino, Ignacio und PCH." Spanish police believe these code names refer to modified blood, growth hormones, a drug similar to insulin and testosterone pills.

Tour de France Jan Ullrich beim Arzt
Ullrich underwent medical examinations for the Tour just days before he was droppedImage: AP

The Spanish Civil Guard files also refer to Rudi's son (thought to be another code name for Ullrich), who deposited four lots of his own blood with Fuentes.

Pevenage has advised Ullrich since the beginning of his professional career, overseeing his 1997 Tour victory while serving as sports director of T-Mobile forerunner Team Telekom.

With the retirement of the seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong, Ullrich had been considered one of the favorites for this year's race before his suspension.

Tour de France 2006 Ullrich Spruch
The sign says, "The Tour without Ulle (Ullrich) is like Paris without the Eifel Tower"Image: AP

A further 12 riders were evicted from the Tour after their names were linked to the Spanish doping investigation.

Ukrainian rider leads Tour

And as for the Tour itself, French rider Sylvian Calzati won Sunday's stage, giving France a reason to celebrate for a few hours before the country's football World Cup defeat by Italy.

Ukrainian Serhiy Honchar is the leader after nine days of racing into the three-week Tour. But he is expected to face a challenge from second-placed American Floyd Landis as the riders face the brutal ascents of the Pyrenees after Monday's rest day.