The Week That Was...
Writing on his personal website, Jan Ullrich has announced his pre-Tour build up. His return to racing will be at the Circuit de la Sarthe (April 5-8). He will then ride the Vuelta Ciclista a Aragon (April 13-17) and the Volta a Catalunya (May 16-22). "I am seriously thinking about forgoing the Tour of Switzerland and starting instead in the Dauphin? Lib?r?, and the ProTour team time trial in the Netherlands (June 19) - that would be a good test for the Tour."
Ullrich hopes that 2005 will see him topple American Lance Armstrong and go on to win his second Tour de France, 8 years after his first. Team management, in accordance with existing contracts, after twice-testing positive for a banned substance at the Vuelta a Murcia in March has suspended Gerolsteiner sprinter, Danilo Hondo. The nature of the stimulant is yet to be announced.
"I have to take the test results for a fact, even if I feel as in a state of shock. I will try to determine the reasons for all of this scientifically within the next few days. I ask for everybody's understanding that I will only comment this publicly upon presentation of facts." Hondo placed second in the recent Milan-San Remo.
If the B samples are confirmed positive, the 31 year old could face a two-year suspension by the German cycling federation and the end of his career as a ProTour cyclist.
On March 31st, a former personal assistant to Lance Armstrong filed court papers in a Texas State District Court claiming to have found the banned substance Androgen in Armstrong?s bathroom in his Girona Apartment in 2004.
Mike Anderson claims to have discovered a white box with out a clear doctor?s prescription whilst cleaning the six-time Tour de France champion?s bathroom. Anderson claims the box was printed with the name, "Androstenine, or something very close to this.?
His brief then goes on to claim that he went and undertook a search on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) websites, and confirmed what he had found was the banned substance androgen. He then proceeded to replace the box and never mentioned the incident to his then employer. He never saw the box again after Armstrong left for a training camp on the Canary Islands.
Anderson does state only finding the drug, and said that he never once saw Armstrong take steroids or banned substances. "I had a job to do, that's why I kept my mouth shut," said Anderson. "I tried for a very long time to give him the benefit of the doubt. I waited for months to even tell my wife."
"We are not going to be blackmailed or pay extortion money to hide something that isn't true," said Armstrong?s attorney, Timothy Herman. According to a report by Associated Press, Armstrong is already seeking US$125,000 in damages
In an interview with the French La Figaro newspaper last week, Armstrong said that he is set to make an "important announcement" just before this year's Tour de Georgia on April 18. Rumours are circulating that he is due to announce an early retirement from the sport despite the fact that he has a two-year deal with his current team, Discovery Channel.
"I won't be doing the Tour forever," he was quoted as saying. "But it's still too early to talk about it. I will announce it to you, to the world, only later...To win a seventh Tour is now my objective. But seven would be just one more whereas six was magic."
Armstrong added that he has found it increasingly difficult to be away from his family. "The long and many absences, the long distances make me want to say stop it, to return home and be near them."
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