Ullrich hanging it up wrote:
HAMBURG, Germany -- Jan Ullrich ended his cycling career Monday but not the doping suspicions which surrounded the former Tour de France champion.
The 33-year-old German, who won the Tour in 1997 and was runner-up five times, announced his retirement eight months after being implicated in a Spanish doping scandal.
"I am ending my active career," Ullrich said. "It's not easy, but you have to listen to the voice inside you that the time is right. It was a good time and I would do it the same way again, even the bad times."
He said he will stay in the sport as a consultant for the Austrian-based Volksbank team.
Ullrich criticized the way he had been treated by cycling officials in Germany and Switzerland and by the German media.
"I feel like a serious criminal although I have nothing to reproach myself," he said. "People have made a name for themselves at my cost. Some were 100 percent lies. I wished I had gotten more support from some people, but I am not bitter."
Ullrich has been under investigation for several months in Spain's "Operation Puerto" scandal, but has not been charged. He has been without a team since being fired by the T-Mobile team last summer.
"I have a clear conscience," Ullrich said during an interview late Monday on Germany's ARD television.
Some German officials said Ullrich wasted an opportunity to deal with the allegations which have tainted his reputation.
"Today Jan Ullrich didn't add anything to clear things up," said Rudolf Scharping, president of the German Cycling Federation. "This is a finish to a career which everybody wished had ended better."
"With today's statement he has probably missed his last chance to clear up the matter," said Thomas Bach, president of Germany's Olympic and Sports Federation.
Ullrich said he was still fit and had received offers from seven teams to race this season, but had decided to move on.
"I could have had a team immediately," Ullrich told a news conference, accompanied by his wife and mother. "But when one door closes, three more open. I'm not going to jump off a bridge. I'm a young man who knows what he wants."
The Spanish probe followed a raid by authorities last April on a Madrid clinic which allegedly provided performance enhancing drugs to 57 top riders.
The investigation led to Ullrich, a pre-race favorite, being expelled from last year's Tour de France -- a day he called the "hardest" in his career.
"My world broke together a little, honestly," Ullrich said. "It was a shock I still haven't completely recovered from. It was an overreaction -- it was an unprecedented prejudgment through part of the press and the cycling organizations."
On July 20, he was dismissed by T-Mobile and hasn't raced since.
Ullrich said he is only under investigation in Germany, where a professor has accused him of fraud against the public.
He was angry at the Swiss Cycling Federation, saying the organization left the impression publicly it was ready to ban him for life. His last cycling license was issued in Switzerland.
"I ask myself where this evidence is," Ullrich said. "For eight months I've been asking myself that."
Ullrich said he would work as a media consultant with Volksbank and will also be active in the team's young riders' program. He said Volksbank offered a large budget for other riders that he would bring with him.
"That really impressed me," he said.
Ullrich trained in the former East Germany and emerged as a top rider in 1996 by finishing second at the Tour de France. The following year he became the first German winner of the Tour, setting off a cycling boom in his homeland.
Ullrich also won a gold and silver at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Some predicted Ullrich would dominate cycling for years, but Lance Armstrong eclipsed him by winning seven times in a row. Ullrich had weight problems in the offseason, while his teams publicly accused him of lacking discipline in training compared to Armstrong.
Team Telekom dropped Ullrich in 2002, and his driver's license was revoked for drunken driving when he plowed his car into a row of bicycles. He served a six-month ban after a positive test for amphetamines. Ullrich said the drug was laced into an ecstasy pill he took during a visit to a nightclub.