Lance Armstrong and the doping scandal: “Ullrich and I were the greatest of this generation of m…”

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By John

«We were both icons in our countries: me because I had defeated cancer and inspired many people; Jan as the first German winner of the Tour. Even if it seems immodest: we were the greatest in cycling, in the whole world. And we were part of this shitty generation». The words are of a legend like Lance Armstrong. And indeed “the American” and Jan Ullrich were, for better or for worse, two characters who made the history of cycling in the 90s and in the first decade of the 2000s. For years, at the end of the summer, they have met in Mallorca and remember the times gone by. It is here that they gave a double interview to the German magazine Die Zeit. Time has passed since the successes and the doping scandal that, at different times, engulfed them but these common experiences brought the two champions closer together. «I admire Jan’s character, he is friendly and generous. And he’s completely different from me,” Armstrong said of his friend. “Now you’re exaggerating!” replied the German. But it is doping that unites their stories. The thesis is that at the time no cyclist was immune: «While the others were able to continue working, Jan and I, including Marco Pantani, were treated differently. It took me ten years to get out of it. It was the reason why I didn’t leave Jan alone when he was in trouble »says the American.

«Pantani was already dead at the time. I couldn’t bear to lose another one of us”, continues the former American cyclist who recalls how in 2018, called by a friend of Ullrich, he reached Mallorca. «I was completely lost. The friends tried everything at the time: nothing to do. In the end they thought that the only person who could contact me was Lance – confirms the German – At the time Lance came to visit me in the clinic and spoke to the doctors. He was able to motivate me to go to rehab. He told me: «You have children, they need you, don’t throw your life away; think about what happened to Pantani. Lance shook me”