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Ullrich pays fine to end fraud case

Rider continues to maintain his innocence

By Agence France Presse

One-time Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich continues to maintain his innocence, despite paying a “six figure” fine to end the doping fraud case that has dogged him since July 2006.

The public prosecutor’s office in Bonn announced on Monday that it was formally ending an investigation of the German cyclist after Ullrich paid a fine in the case.

Prosecutors had accused the 1997 Tour de France winner of taking performance-enhancing drugs, leading to a fraud case against the 34-year-old based on his alleged deception of the public, sponsors and his team.

“The Bonn prosecutor has, with the agreement of the seventh Bonn chamber of appeal, decided to lay aside procedures in the case of suspected fraud targeting Jan Ullrich,” the prosecutor’s office said, adding the fine was “in six figures” without elaborating further.

On his website, Ullrich said he was happy with the outcome.

“The payment of this fine is not a recognition of guilt … it allows (me) to free my family from the pressure surrounding this procedure,” he said. “I never cheated anyone in my whole career nor did I prejudice anyone. I was always a loyal sportsman; my victories were the result of hard work and passion for my sport.”

Ullrich has insisted he did not take banned substances but has paid up a sum reported to be anything between 100,000 and one million Euros, the latter sum reported Saturday by Focus news magazine on its website.

Under German law, Ullrich, who retired in 2007, had the option to settle the matter out of court if he paid up and duly did so.

German law does not recognize sports doping as a criminal offense, so prosecutors pursued fraud charges instead.

Despite Ullrich’s denials, in April of last year German officials indicated that DNA tests had suggested blood samples uncovered in connection with the Operación Puerto investigation in Spain were from the racer.

As a result of that investigation, T-Mobile kept Ullrich out of the 2006 Tour and then fired him a few weeks later. Ullrich retired in February of 2007.

Monday’s settlement does not affect other ongoing investigations of Ullrich’s alleged past practices, including other open cases in Germany, as well as the Puerto investigation in Spain and another in Switzerland, where his professional racing license was issued.

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