Jan Ullrich: The Best There Never Was

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Jan Ullrich: The Best There Never Was

Jan Ullrich: The Best There Never Was

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As I also said, it may well depend on the review, but just check the insisted presence of “DDR” above. as in: “There’s exploration on when Ullrich might have started using EPO and whether he was a victim of the East German state doping program”). Ullrich himself isn’t interviewed but that might not be any loss, one of the reasons for his troubles with the media over the years stems from him just not being that articulate in set-piece interviews. Note the disproportionate relative weight of whatever *supposed* doping Ullrich *might* have experienced when 13 to 15 in the DDR, and… the huge rest of his sporting experience – including lots of proven facts about him himself and his team – but now we’re *even* speaking “doping in the DDR”: that explains better than anything else what I’m trying to communicate about perspective, stereotypes, idées reçues and so on.

On a much smaller level the Tour monopolises attention such that when a cycling biography comes out in June, along comes the race with all its distractions. He was soon also voted Germany’s most popular sportsperson of all time, and his rivalry with Lance Armstrong defined the most controversial years of the Tour de France. The 1997 Tour win is symbolic for a country trying to reunite, easterners could see one of their own winning, westerners can celebrate their gain as the first – and only – German Tour winner, it was an act of unification itself. Even when he didn’t win, there was always the seasonal targeting of the Tour with his preparation getting more intense the closer the race got. The possibility of doping in the DDR days is perhaps more about Ullrich’s upbringing as a child and the person he became, but as suggested above, the danger is ersatz psychology.

It’s “the same USADA” (not exactly *the same* of course), covering up doped Olympic medallists or catching Lance. Well apparently Gabriele is very sensitive about East Germany… As Inrng often says, it gives more informations about you than about the subject when you react so strongly to what is at worst a slightly deflected review of a book you didn’t read. However, *unless* serious facts are brought forth by Friebe on the subject, I still find that speaking of a couple of seasons as a teenager in a State Sport School as a meaningful doping-related point is just poorly reinforcing commonplace assertions, especially given that the subsequent twenty years or so showed that Ullrich was *actually* being doped in every sort of other system (and the passive voice is also especially relevant here), *plus* that athletes from any sort of background became “that kind of person” without any help from the DDR.

Of course, only Fuentes has been *proven*, but just as Friebe “explores” the DDR leit motiv, why don’t explore this also rather promising subject, given that Ullrich had quite much a stronger relation with the Telekom team than with the DDR, be it only due to mere chronology? For many it was a vision of the future: if he could climb like this, win the time trials, and arrive in Paris with nine minutes on his next rival all at the age of 23 – precocious in those days – then the Tour seemed to belong to him.If you want I could also name several doped ex-athletes in cycling and beyond who get moral and financial support today… without having ever had any relation with DDR, imagine that. It’s an irony of sort that they were founded the same year when Keul was elected President of the German Association of Sports Physician. Although cases of doping on minors in the DDR were actually reported, the doping angle looks totally misplaced here, especially considering the Keulephant in the Room: Ullrich spent a couple of years in a KJS, at most three, as an early teenager, whereas pretty much his whole pro career happened at Telekom / T-Mobile over more than a decade. Doping is more of a background story, as you would expect from a cycling story from the 90s, it certainly isn’t the main issue covered in this book and it certainly doesn’t lay the blame at the feet of the DDR. And let me be clear: I consider it fairer to treat people as “we” do with Basso than as it happened with Ullrich.



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