PIC BY TIM DE WAELE
Jan Ullrich has announced that he will not renew his Swiss racing licence on account of what Ullrich believes is a slur campaign against him by the Swiss Cycling Federation (Swiss Cycling).
"For months, officials in Swiss Cycling and the Swiss Olympic Committee have been attacking me with their contradictory statements and media campaigns against me," Ullrich said, referring to the fallout from his alleged involvement in the Operacion Puerto doping scandal. "The trust is now broken. This break with Swiss Cycling doesn't mean that my career is over: I'm in contact with other federations about the possibility of obtaining a licence for 2007".
On Thursday, no-one at Swiss Cycling was available for comment on whether Ullrich's decision would affect the federation's ability to impose sanctions on the German. Swiss Cycling recently stated that they lacked the evidence needed to ban Ullrich for doping offences, but it is believed that decision may be revised if new facts emerge.
If Ullrich's determination to prolong his career will be good news for his fans, they'll be less enthusiastic about a picture published today by German tabloid Bild. Christened the "Photo of Misery" by the newspaper, the photo shows a hunched, rotund Kaiser trudging grimly past a wheelie-bin outside his house in Scherzingen, Switzerland.
According to Bild, Ullrich has succumbed to the curse of the comfort-eater since his recent wedding. The paper reports that Ullrich has gained seven kilos since he was shut out of the Tour in July.
It's presumably to reports like this that Ullrich was referring yesterday when he blasted the "daily lies [about me] printed by the media". On a brighter note, Ullrich said that he was encouraged by fellow Tour outcast Ivan Basso's exoneration by the Italian Olympic Committee. Ullrich said that he and Basso have maintaned contact throughout the weeks and months following the Grande Boucle.