Spanish police probing whether Ullrich involved in doping scandal

Police are investigating whether former Tour of France champion Jan Ullrich is involved in a major doping scandal in Spain, the country's leading newspaper reported Monday.

With this year's tour beginning on Saturday, the investigators are looking at code names that can be interpreted as alluding to cyclists whose blood was allegedly found at a doping clinic in Madrid, El Pais said, quoting from court documents in the case.

One of the names is "Hijo Rudicio" and the other is "JAN." Police suspect the former refers to Rudy Pevenage, a long time adviser to Ullrich. "Hijo" means son in Spanish.

This term was found on documents seized from Jose Merino Batres, one of the sports physicians who was arrested on May 23 in the case.

The name "JAN" was found on a document referring to blood pouches in storage on June 26, 2004, El Pais said.

The Civil Guard, which has spearheaded the probe, declined to comment on the newspaper report.

Ullrich and Pevenage denied any wrongdoing.

"I have nothing to do with this," said Ullrich, who during the Giro d'Italia already denied any involvement in the affair.

"There's nothing behind these allegations," Pevenage said.

T-Mobile said it was taking the accusations seriously.

"These are serious allegations. We are in contact with all parties involved, from Ullrich and Pevenage through to the Spanish investigators and the Tour organizers," said Christian Frommert, Director of Sports Communications for T-Mobile International.

"We are investigating how these allegations have arisen. By now we have only seen newspaper articles. The full facts of the case and evidence supporting it are still unclear."

After T-Mobile rider Oscar Sevilla's name was dragged into the affair at the end of May, T-Mobile instructed all the team's 29 riders to sign a written declaration stating that they had no contact with Eufemiano Fuentes, a Spanish doctor who is a suspect in the case.

Ullrich said last month he "never worked" with Fuentes.

The 32-year-old Ullrich, who rides for the T-Mobile team, won the 1997 Tour de France and has been runner-up five times. With Lance Armstrong retired after a record five straight victories, the German and Italy's Ivan Basso are considered the top favorites this year, reports AP.

O.Ch.

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Author`s name: Editorial Team