Jan Ullrich, Germany’s only winner of the Tour de France, has admitted for the first time to doping with the help of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.
“Yes, I had access to treatment from Fuentes,” the 1997 Tour winner told German weekly Focus. “At that time, nearly everyone was using doping substances and I used nothing that the others were not using.” The cyclist however insisted he used no other doping substance other than his own blood and said he was motivated by the desire to be competing on a level playing field with his main rivals. The German rider, who also won road-race gold and time-trial silver medals at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, remarked, “In my view you can only call it cheating on my part when it is clear that I have gained an unfair advantage.” He added, “That was not the case. All I wanted was everyone to have the same chances of winning.”
Ullrich stated that the primary factors contributing toward his success in cycling were pure talent, effort, team spirit, and the will to win and that the damage he had done by doping was mainly to himself. “It was myself who suffered most because of this episode as concerns my public image and what it meant for my own health,” he said.
“Now it is time to bring down the curtain on all of this. I want to look to the future and no longer be dragged back to the past.”
The doping admission of Jan Ullrich comes months after a similar public pronouncement by his greatest rival and nemesis, Lance Armstrong.
“We are both guilty,” said Ullrich. “I am no better than Armstrong, but no worse either.
“The great heroes of old are now people with failings that we’ve got to come to terms with. I always knew that even Lance Armstrong would not get away with it.”
Thomas Bach, president of the German Olympic federation, said Ullrich’s confession was “too little, too late.” “Jan Ullrich had his chance for a creditable admission a couple of years ago and he missed it,” said Bach, a candidate to succeed International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge when he steps down in September.
“Today’s confirmation of some of the already well known and established facts helps neither Jan Ullrich nor cycling.”