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Proceedings against Ullrich begin

BERLIN -- Disciplinary proceedings have begun against 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich over allegations of doping.

Swiss sports authorities said Tuesday they have opened the proceedings against Ullrich.

Last year, German prosecutors dropped an investigation into whether he defrauded his T-Mobile team by taking performance-enhancing drugs. However, he remained under investigation by Swiss sports officials, who could impose a lifetime ban from cycling.

The German, who lives in Switzerland and rode with a Swiss license, retired in February 2007.

Christof Kaufmann, a spokesman for Swiss Olympic, which is responsible for imposing doping sanctions, confirmed that disciplinary proceedings have been opened.

He declined to comment on the specific allegations against Ullrich, saying only that the body has been asked by Switzerland's independent anti-doping watchdog to give a verdict on the matter.

Kaufmann declined to say when the Olympic organization would make its decision.

Ullrich shrugged aside the latest development.

"Three whole years have now gone by since the first public announcement of a 'lifetime ban soon," the 35-year-old cyclist said in a post on his Web site. "Although I haven't participated since then in professional cycling, this news is being put about during the Tour de France -- that is more than a surprising 'coincidence.'

"I view this matter calmly, because I have now gained the necessary distance and am confident of being able to draw a line soon under the past three years. I will continue to fight for this aim and will face this current challenge."

Ullrich was banned for six months after testing positive for amphetamines in June 2002. A lifetime ban is mandatory for a second offense under the World Anti-Doping Agency code.