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Jan Ullrich — the beleaguered Tour de France champion who received a back-dated two-year racing ban by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in February — has broken his silence over his own doping past.
Without revealing specifics, the 1997 Tour champion says he has come to terms with his past.
“There’s no denying that several doping cases in the sport in recent years have hurt. I, too, have made my mistakes,” Ullrich wrote in a new column for German Eurosport. “But my case is finished. And years of despair, depression and physical problems are finally over.”
Ullrich said he was through hiding from his own past.
“The time of hiding and retreat is over,” Ullrich wrote. “I have received my punishment. Even if I do not plan to return to professional cycling, the sport will remain a passion for me for the rest of my life.”
Ullrich became one of Germany’s top sporting stars following his 1997 Tour win, but later rode in the shadow of Lance Armstrong and never won another Tour.
As others on the once-mighty Telekom team admitted their doping practices from the 1990s, Ullrich never publicly admitted his role despite being linked to the Operación Puerto scandal in 2006.
Ullrich admitted he knew Puerto ringleader Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes and did not challenge the decision by CAS to ban him. He had not raced since 2006.
The column is a return to the public eye for Ullrich, who once earned millions in endorsement deals in his native Germany.
“This is my way, even if it is not understood by all. All I ask for is respect and let every person make up their mind if someone deserves a second chance,” he wrote.
“Cycling has lost none of its fascination,” he continued. “There are many young riders who will not make the same mistakes as the older generation. They have earned it and deserve to be supported.”
Ullrich said he would write about tactics, strategy and teamwork in his new online column.