Ullrich hints again at doping during career

Martin, Ciolek and younger generation deserve a chance, says German

Retired Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich has hinted again that his career involved doping but has reinforced his position that he will not go down the path of Lance Armstrong, who provided a television confession with Oprah Winfrey.

"Anyone can make a picture of what happened in the past in cycling and I contributed my part," Ullrich wrote in his regular Eurosport blog. "Lance Armstrong and many others have expressed their past in TV interviews as this was obviously the right way for them personally."

The winner of the 1997 Tour was implicated in the 2006 Operación Puerto investigation into blood doping and was eventually handed a two-year ban in addition to having all results from 1 May, 2005 onwards stripped from him. Ullrich's most significant result during that time was his third place at the 2005 Tour.

Ullrich, as he has since officially retiring from the sport in 2007, referred to the importance of his family and said that dredging up the past and potentially damaging the reputation of former sponsors is not something he is looking to do anytime soon. Dealing with his issues since moving away from competitive cycling means more than appealing to the public’s need for a confession.

"My active cycling career has been over for almost ten years. The only thing that counts now and in the future is me and my family. My way is to agree on the matter with myself, rather than perhaps the people and sponsors who have supported me in my cycling days. I don’t need to drag them down."

Race organisers and professionals alike are now responsible for regaining the trust of fans, according to the 39-year-old. The inclusion of courses like those seen at Tirreno-Adriatico - where riders dealt with the brutal ascent of the Sant'Elpidio a Mare - need to be taken into perspective when looking to develop the sport into the future.

"I have my concerns on the role of race organizers. The Tour celebrates its 100th Anniversary and Alpe d'Huez will be climbed twice in a day.

"The Giro has always been in the shadow of the Tour de France and is perhaps 'jealous' of the advertising revenue its colleagues receive at ASO. From year-to-year there are increases in the number of mountain stages and you can now count the sprint stages on one hand.

"The same applies to the Vuelta and then at Tirreno-Adriatico - which I found exciting to watch - the peloton had to cope with gradients of nearly 30 percent. It remains to be seen how this trend will continue."

Ullrich also spoke of his admiration for his country’s top riders like Tony Martin (Omega Pharma - Quick-Step) and Milan-San Remo winner Gerald Ciolek (MTN-Qhubeka). "In my opinion, cycling should again look more to the future. I know the guys like Gerald and Tony personally and I can only say ‘hats off to their achievements. I trust them and so should the fans. Our younger generation deserves a fair chance!

"Anyway, I am still an ardent cycling enthusiast and looking forward to the next exciting race, as do many millions of other fans around the world."


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