Ullrich quits Cologne race role - after 3 days

Jan Ullrich (File)
Jan Ullrich (File)

Berlin - Germany's only Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich said on Friday he has resigned as sports director of a professional race in Cologne due to negative media reaction - just three days after being appointed.

The 43-year-old won the 1997 Tour de France and the road race gold at the 2000 Sydney Olympics before retiring in 2007 amidst allegations of doping.

He had been due to make his one-off comeback in professional cycling as director of sport at the Tour of Cologne on June 11.

But just three days after the announcement, Ullrich said he has resigned, blaming negative media coverage for the swift u-turn.

"A few media obviously couldn't handle it, which is why I have resigned from the post after talking to the organisers," Ullrich wrote on his official Facebook page.

"Ultimately, I don't want to damage the (image of the) race so the position of sports director will remain vacant this year."

Ullrich's reputation in Germany has been tarnished since he was involved in the 2006 Operation Puerto doping scandal and sacked by his team T-Mobile before that year's Tour de France, retiring the following year.

In 2012, the Court of Arbitration (CAS) found him retrospectively guilty of a doping offence and annulled all his results from 2005 to his retirement in 2007.

Ullrich, who now lives in Switzerland, says he never wanted to return to cycling and had only agreed to the sports director role as a favour to the organiser.

"It's sad," said Tour de Cologne's organiser Artur Tabat, who had himself been criticised for offering Ullrich a way back into cycling.

"I had wanted to give Jan Ullrich a chance, because everyone has a second chance in life."

Tabat pointed to the example of Uli Hoeness, who was voted back into office as president of Germany's top football club Bayern Munich last year despite serving a prison sentence for tax evasion.

"Nobody said anything then," added Tabat.

But others took a dim view of his attempt to bring Ullrich's back into cycling.

"They are doing a disservice to the current generation of cyclists," said Steffen Simon, sports boss of regional broadcaster WDR, who will televise the event.

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