Johan Bruyneel says there is nothing to the reports that Discovery Channel are negotiating with Jan
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Discovery Channel team manager Johan Bruyneel has denied the American squad is in talks with Jan Ullrich. Reports in the Spanish press on Monday suggested the German has been negotiating with Discovery Channel, but Bruyneel has stated: “We’ve never contacted Ullrich. I consider him a great rider but our roster for 2007 is full and Jan isn’t on it.”
There is a growing feeling within the sport that Ullrich and Ivan Basso, who were both implicated in the Puerto affair before the start of the Tour de France and subsequently failed to start the race, are likely to return to the sport in the near future without any further sanction being taken against them.
Recent reports from Spain suggest the evidence against the pair and 11 other riders prevented from starting the Tour may not be legally valid to force national federations or the International Cycling Union to impose sanctions. UCI president Pat McQuaid has indicated that if Ullrich and Basso are cleared, the UCI would consider taking action against them at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Following this weekend’s victory by Franaise des Jeux’s Frdric Guesdon at Paris-Tours, their team manager, Marc Madiot, told L’Equipe he was afraid that Ullrich and Basso would be riding again soon due to legal wrangling over the evidence in their cases. Madiot called on all those involved in the Puerto affair to provide DNA evidence to assess whether or not they were involved in blood doping.
“From what I’ve read recently, I fear that everything will be swept under the carpet and they’ll tell us there’s no real proof,” said Madiot. “All I can is: OK, let them claim their innocence but they should submit DNA samples so they can be compared with the blood in the bags which, after all, didn’t fall out of the sky. If they’re honest they will do it. If they don’t, then they should shut up and leave the sport. Ullrich and Basso have both made plenty of money out of cycling already.”