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Last Updated: Monday, 26 February 2007, 10:49 GMT
Former Tour winner Ullrich quits
Jan Ullrich announces his decision to retire
Ullrich announced his retirement in Hamburg on Monday
Former Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich has announced his retirement from cycling.

The 33-year-old, who also claimed the Olympic road race title in Sydney in 2000, won the race in 1997 and finished runner-up on five occasions.

But he was suspended from racing on the eve of the 2006 Tour after being linked to a doping scandal.

"Today I'm ending my career as a professional cyclist," said Ullrich. "I never once cheated as a cyclist."

Ullrich said on Monday that he would continue in the sport, working as a consultant for the Austrian-based Volksbank team.

The rider, who was born in Rostock in the former East Germany, emerged as a top cyclist when finishing second in the 1996 Tour de France.

606 DEBATE: Give your reaction to this news

After his victory in the race in 1997, some predicted Ullrich would dominate the sport but he had to live in the shadow of seven-time winner Lance Armstong.

He competed in the Tour de France on eight occasions, never finishing out of the top four.

As well as winning gold at the 2000 Olympics, Ullrich also took the silver medal in the time trial, a discipline in which he was twice world champion (1999 and 2001).

I couldn't live without cycling - it's my passion and my life

Jan Ullrich

He also won the Tour of Spain (1999) and the Tour of Switzerland (2004 and 2006).

But he also battled weight problems in the off-season and was dropped by Team Telekom in 2002 after a positive test for amphetamines.

Ullrich claimed the drug had been spiked into an ecstasy pill he had taken at a nightclub.

His suspension in 2006 came after a Spanish doping investigation known as 'Operation Puerto', which led to a host of riders being banned.

Despite always insisting on his innocence, Ullrich was fired by his T-Mobile team last July and has been without a team since then.

He has been under investigation since last summer although he has not been charged with any doping offence.

"I still don't understand why I was not allowed to compete in the Tour last year," he said. "My life as a cyclist collapsed that day.

"I've been painted as a criminal while I've done nothing wrong."

Ullrich said that he had had riding offers but will instead work for the Volksbank team in an advisory capacity.

He said: "I had seven offers, including some from ProTour teams, and I'm still fit."



SEE ALSO
Swiss halt Ullrich investigation
21 Dec 06 |  Cycling


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