The crash of Jan Ullrich: “I was close to death”

Jan Ullrich spoke for the first time about the years of doping in Team Telekom and justified the use of banned substances by the lack of equal opportunities. “Without help, as was common at the time, it was like going to a shooting point armed only with a knife,” the 49-year-old told Stern. After joining Germany’s then-top racing team in 1995, he “realized quite quickly that doping was widespread.” In 1997, Ullrich became the only German to win the Tour de France.

However, he was reluctant to publicly make an equal opportunity argument in 2006 after he was suspended from the team due to links to Spanish doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. “I didn’t want to be a traitor. “I didn’t want to reveal half-truths and I certainly didn’t want to reveal the whole truth,” Ulrich said, citing legal restrictions. “The lives of families and friends depended on it. The lawyers told me: either you come out and demolish everything, or you don’t say anything at all.”

No chance without doping

Previously, he did not have the strength to say: “I doped.” He cannot say this in an interview with Stern either. Ullrich talks about doping without openly admitting it. However, this may follow in the Amazon documentary “Jan Ullrich – The Hunt”, which will be released on November 28. Doping was normal in cycling and the inhibition threshold was correspondingly low. “The general attitude was: If you don’t do this, how will you survive the race? Then you ride in the peloton and you know that you are probably one of the people who have nothing in it, and therefore you have zero chance,” Ullrich said.

Ullrich now regrets not speaking out in detail about doping earlier. “From today’s point of view, I should have spoken out. It would be very difficult for a moment, but then life would become easier,” said the native of Rostock. However, there is no point in mourning this. “Until now it has been a life full of extremes. I’ve been to heaven and hell. Now I’m back on earth, on my way to the center.”

Criminal proceedings prevented confession

In 2007, riders such as Bert Dietz, Christian Henn, Udo Bölts, Rolf Aldag, Erik Zabel and Bjarne Riis publicly admitted to doping. Ullrich did not join his teammates. “At that time, criminal proceedings were still ongoing against me. My lawyers advised me to remain silent. “It was advice that I followed, but I suffered from the consequences for a long time,” said the Sydney Olympian. In 2012, the International Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) suspended Ullrich for two years and various achievements achieved between 2005 and 2006 were annulled.

Armstrong helped in the most difficult hours

Between 2010 and 2020, Ulrich made many negative headlines for his personal life. In 2015, he wanted to start a new life by moving to Mallorca. It was “above all, an escape from the dreary German winter weather,” “but it didn’t help me. Against. “Eventually there was a collapse – it couldn’t have been that deep, even deeper,” Ulrich said. Due to his alcoholic escapades, his then-wife Sarah returned to Germany with their three children. Then the “total collapse” began.

Ulrich was tormented by loneliness when his family abandoned him. A 49-year-old man started drinking. “Wine became whiskey. At first one bottle a day, later up to two. It was complete anesthesia,” said the native of Rostock. Since then, his estate has become a “party place”, “at some point someone brought cocaine with them”, and this “turns a person into a monster in a very short time,” Ulrich admitted.

But when his wife Sarah threatened that he would no longer be allowed to see his children, Ulrich gave in. That was the “only reason” to “seek medical help,” he said: “I knew I had to do something if I was going to see her again at all.” Armstrong Ullrich emerged from a long depression and returned to normal everyday life. “I was close to death,” Ulrich said, but also: “I thirst for life again.”

Source: Frantfurter Allgemeine

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