In a candid interview with Sportschau, Jan Ullrich has opened up to Hajo Seppelt, the most famous doping journalist in Germany. The two clashed on TV seventeen years ago and did not speak to each other in interviews afterwards, until this week. Ullrich did so as part of the launch of his documentary on Amazon Prime.
Ullrich has managed to climb his way back up from a deep valley. "I was really in a dark place. As an athlete, I needed to suffer a lot, but after my career, that suffering went in the wrong direction. In 2018, I was at my peak, more than a person could physically and mentally handle. The next step would pretty much have been death."
Ultimately, the German - partly with the help of Lance Armstrong - managed to get back on his feet. "How did things get so far? That was a process of several years. It started when I was not allowed to start in the 2006 Tour de France. I went from being a potential winner in the Tour, to things going downhill and suddenly finding myself alone, with all of Germany turning against me. From the best horse in the stable, I went to being a farm horse, which was very hard. And actually, you still feel that pain."
The fact that he is now so openly addressing this saga, including a recent doping confession, has its reasons. "I barely survived that extreme life crisis, that crash. After spending two years strengthening myself physically and mentally, I decided that I really needed to get back on track in life. I actually lost many years, years when my children were much younger than now. I am now mourning that because it stemmed from personal mistakes and weakness."