Jan Ullrich: The Best There Never Was

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Jan Ullrich: The Best There Never Was

Jan Ullrich: The Best There Never Was

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Pro cycling also had endemic doping but once entangled by Operation Puerto – the final verdict would take years – Ullrich never raced again and became a pariah. If you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, having bought the hardback you can feel the heft, it runs well beyond 400 pages with notes and an index and the font isn’t big either. There was a point towards the end of the book when I could feel the weight of pages on the left of the hardback spine and how I almost didn’t want to turn further, as if to leave some kind of future ahead.

It’s an irony of sort that they were founded the same year when Keul was elected President of the German Association of Sports Physician. Friebe sensibly avoids this diagnosis, there’s sympathy but no solutions as the book sets out the struggles with addiction and mental health. Then came 1997 and Stage 10 from Luchon to Arcalis, a ski station in Andorra whose name today still seems to evoke Ullrich’s ascent, the day he rode the field off his wheel, his flat back, a gold earning dangling and the black, red, gold bands of the Bundesflagge on his jersey.Whereas, as the piece above shows, having been part of the DDR Sport System is enough to start speaking about doping. Of course, only Fuentes has been *proven*, but just as Friebe “explores” the DDR leit motiv, why don’t explore this also rather promising subject, given that Ullrich had quite much a stronger relation with the Telekom team than with the DDR, be it only due to mere chronology? On a much smaller level the Tour monopolises attention such that when a cycling biography comes out in June, along comes the race with all its distractions.

Sure, and proud, but in case I could choose I’d always pick as a political model Rojava or Chiapas over DDR or the USSR The 1997 Tour win is symbolic for a country trying to reunite, easterners could see one of their own winning, westerners can celebrate their gain as the first – and only – German Tour winner, it was an act of unification itself. A Wunderkind who won the amateur worlds in 1993 as a teenager and almost won the time trial against the pros there too, he was second in the 1996 Tour de France, taking the final time trial. Doping Opfer Hilfe (essentially focussed on victims of State doping under the DDR) is probably one of the best possible examples of the serious issues which may be fostered by this kind of notable (and declared) ideological biases.

In 1997, Jan Ullrich announced himself to the world by obliterating his rivals in the first mountain stage of the Tour de France. I got the impression that the author went to great lengths to not make this book an “East Vs West” narrative. Although cases of doping on minors in the DDR were actually reported, the doping angle looks totally misplaced here, especially considering the Keulephant in the Room: Ullrich spent a couple of years in a KJS, at most three, as an early teenager, whereas pretty much his whole pro career happened at Telekom / T-Mobile over more than a decade.

I guess I’d need to read it but frankly from what inrng reports the focus on DDR doping and so on looks laughable at best, especially when speaking of a prominent Telekom athlete. In a podcast episode Friebe mentions that Lance Armstrong looms large in this book and and prior to reading this was a concern, especially if the publishers wanted him to be crowbarred into the story because of his celebrity. A small picture of Walter Ulbricht with His Antikapitalist and Antiformalist glasses may calm you down : https://media2. Doping is more of a background story, as you would expect from a cycling story from the 90s, it certainly isn’t the main issue covered in this book and it certainly doesn’t lay the blame at the feet of the DDR.However, *unless* serious facts are brought forth by Friebe on the subject, I still find that speaking of a couple of seasons as a teenager in a State Sport School as a meaningful doping-related point is just poorly reinforcing commonplace assertions, especially given that the subsequent twenty years or so showed that Ullrich was *actually* being doped in every sort of other system (and the passive voice is also especially relevant here), *plus* that athletes from any sort of background became “that kind of person” without any help from the DDR. Whether through early problems like weight gain or the deep personal problems of recent years, at times there’s a temptation as a reader to place Ullrich onto an imaginary psychologist’s couch and diagnose his issues through the pages, especially as the intensity of the book seems to grow with recent events where Ullrich goes from trying to win a bicycle race to coping with life. Germany has Doping Opfer Hilfe, literally “Doping Victim Help” and it’s run almost on similar ways to those who might have been given wrongful medical treatment.



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