CAS bans Jan Ullrich for two years

GENEVA -- Sport's highest court banned 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich for two years on Thursday and stripped him of his third-place finish in the 2005 race for blood doping.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that the 38-year-old German, who retired in 2007, was "fully engaged" in the doping program of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes that was exposed in the 2006 Operation Puerto probe.

The CAS panel "came to the conclusion that Jan Ullrich engaged at least in blood doping in violation of ... anti-doping rules," the court said.

Ullrich's suspension comes three days after CAS banned Alberto Contador for two years and stripped him of his 2010 Tour title for doping. A U.S. federal investigation into alleged doping involving seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong and his teammates was dropped Friday.

Ullrich is banned from cycling through Aug. 21, 2013, and all his results from May 1, 2005, until his retirement are annulled.

"It is established that Jan Ullrich was fully engaged with Dr. (Eufemiano) Fuentes's doping program at least from that date," the court said.

Along with his loss of a podium placement in the 2005 Tour, which was won by Armstrong, Ullrich will also be stripped of his victory in the 2006 Tour de Suisse. Spanish rider Francisco Mancebo moves up from fourth to third in the 2005 Tour.

CAS, however, rejected the International Cycling Union's request to impose a lifetime ban and disqualify all of Ullrich's results since May 2002. CAS said Ullrich's six-month ban for using amphetamines outside of competition in 2002 should not be classified as a doping offense. A second offense could trigger a life ban.

The UCI wanted Ullrich banned for life to prevent him from ever working again in professional cycling.

Cycling's governing body appealed to CAS to challenge a decision by Switzerland's Olympic committee to decline responsibility for prosecuting the former Swiss-based rider.

CAS took jurisdiction for the much-delayed case and praised the "volume, consistency and probative value" of evidence presented by the UCI.

Ullrich linked up with Fuentes' doping operations "on multiple occasions" and paid him $106,000 for his services, the CAS ruling said.

The rider's DNA was also matched to blood bags seized in Spain.

The CAS panel "expressed its surprise" that Ullrich did not challenge the truth of this evidence at a hearing held last August.

Ullrich was also a five-time runner-up in cycling's biggest race. Three times he was denied victory by seven-time Tour winner Armstrong -- in 2000, '01 and '03.

Ullrich won an Olympic gold medal in the road race at the 2000 Sydney Games. He also took silver in the time trial.