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By VeloNews Interactive wire services, Copyright AFP2002
Deutsche Telekom’s 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, recently suspended for six months after testing positive for amphetamines, has been told by his team he will go without pay until further notice.
Olaf Ludwig, the team spokesman, said: “For the moment we’re not paying Ullrich. The last time he was paid was in June. The Telekom company decided after speaking to (team manager) Walter Godefroot.
“There will be further discussions when Jan returns from his ban,” added Ludwig following the race’s 18th stage. The 28-year-old Ullrich has a contract with the German team through 2003. His annual salary is believed to amount to around 1.3 million euros (1.3 million dollars) however that could be reviewed following his recent controversy. Ullrich had already been fined 70 days’ pay (245,000 euros) by a German traffic court for a drunk driving incident earlier in the year. (German traffic fines are often based on a violator’s income rather than a set structure of universally applied penalties.)
The Olympic road race champion, who was not taking part in this year’s tour as he was recovering from knee surgery in the early season, was told at the start of July he had tested positive for amphetamines.
Ullrich later explained he had taken two pills while out at a discotheque on June 11 with friends, admitting it was “an idiotic thing to do, but I was depressed.”
The disciplinary commission of the German Federation (BDR) handed down a six-month ban on July 23, to run until March 23 next year, taking into account the two winter months of non-competition.
Ullrich is currently in the United States and it is not yet known when he will return.
Godefroot, a former professional rider, has placed doubt on his protégé’s ability to regain his appetite for success, which has been quelled in recent years by the advent of the seemingly unstoppable Lance Armstrong, who is en route to his fourth consecutive Tour triumph this Sunday.
Since Armstrong returned from recovering from cancer to win his first tour in 1999, Ullrich has finished runner-up behind the American twice. Ullrich also finished second overall in 1998 behind Marco Pantani, and was runner-up to Bjarne Riis in 1996.