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The fall-out from the Operacion Puerto inquiry in Spain continues to be felt in other European countries, with the president of the Swiss federation confirming there will be a detailed investigation into Jan Ullrich's links to those involved in the Puerto affair, and German prosecutors announcing they have begun a criminal investigation into the alleged supply of performance-enhancing products by a German doctor.
After the announcement by the Swiss federation on Wednesday that they are planning to investigate Ullrich's alleged links to those involved in the Puerto affair, notably Dr Eufemiano Fuentes, the organisation's president, Lorenz Schlfli, told AFP on Thursday that he expects a long legal battle with Ullrich if further action is taken. "It will involve particular and immense legal problems. It's the first time we have had a case like this," said Schlfli.
Ullrich, who is alleged to have been given performance-enhancing products by Fuestes or his associates, holds a Swiss licence, hence the possibility of disciplinary action by Schlfli's organisation. Schlfli said he is ready to take action against Ullrich in principle, but says he needs to have a stronger legal footing before doing so. Until now, all documents Swiss Cycling have received relating to the case have come from the International Cycling Union (UCI).
"If we had opened the process with these documents, it would have lasted just five minutes. It's a translation from Spanish to French. We don't know who did the translation. There are no stamps, we don't know if it's official or not. First, we have to ask for the official documents. If they're the same as the translation, then we'll pass them on to the disciplinary chamber," Schlfli explained.
Schlfli also confirmed that the head of Swiss Cycling's disciplinary body for doping cases, Gerhard Walter, would not be not be part of any investigation after Ullrich objected to his involvement. "Mr Walter was in the press a lot and it's clear that if you are then you're not always 100 per cent objective. So he won't be managing the case," said Schlfli.
In Frankfurt, meanwhile, German prosecutors have started a criminal investigation of a German doctor suspected of supplying performance-enhancing drugs to Fuentes. According to the Federal Crime Office, the German equivalent of the FBI, a search of the doctor's residence and office turned up "comprehensive evidence". The doctor concerned has not been identified but is suspected of supplying drugs for the "purpose of doping in sports".
However, German TV network ARD has identified the doctor concerned as Markus Choina, who is reported to work as an anaesthesiologist in an orthopaedic clinic in the town of Bleicherode.
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