The Lance Armstrong affair has caused “enormous damage” to cycling, according to his former rival Jan Ullrich. The German, who is currently serving a two-year suspension for his involvement with Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, refused to directly confess to doping during his career, but admitted that all the riders of the era did the same things.
“I don't want anything bad to happen to anyone, not even to Lance. But I always said that Lance wouldn't get away with it” Ullrich told the SportBild magazine.
He did not comment directly on Armstrong's doping, but focused on other aspects of the affair. “Lance made too many enemies. He always wanted to be the boss and at times was merciless to those working for him. That was extreme."
“It is too bad that cycling received enormous damage from this Armstrong story, especially in Germany. My partner Alpecin was just about to start a project in pro cycling with German riders,” plans which were cancelled “after Armstrong”.
As before, Ullrich would not directly address doping charges against himself,saying only “I made mistakes, but I'm not a bad person.” And when confronted with his earlier statement that he had never betrayed anyone since all the riders were doing the same thing, he answered “Exactly”.
Ullrich was suspended by Team T-Mobile on the eve of the 2006 Tour de France in the aftermath of Operacion Puerto, and was subsequently fired by the team. He announced his retirement in February 2007. Shortly thereafter he was matched via DNA sampling to blood stored by Fuentes.
Years of lawsuits and legal cases ensued, finally culminating in a Court of Arbitration for Sport decision in February 2012, giving him a back-dated two year suspension which expires this August.
It was a “horrible time. The entire legal wrangling never ended.” There were eight attorneys to pay, “but even worse was the psychological stress. In the end I was happy when the suspension was announced. I simply wanted to draw a line under it all and start a new life.”