Jan Ullrich has admitted he was close to death after losing control of his life in 2018 but suggests the two-year process of creating an intimate documentary series about his life has helped him find peace with his past.
Ullirch’s victory in the 1997 Tour de France sparked a boom in German cycling, and he became Lance Armstrong’s biggest rival in the sport before allegations and then proof emerged that he was part of the infamous blood doping ring centred on Dr Eufemiano Fuentes.
During the official trailer, Ullrich revealed how much he suffered in 2018 when he lost control of his life, became estranged from his children and was haunted by his past.
“It was life or death. It really didn’t go well. I took loads of cocaine, drank whisky like water and was very close to death,” Ullrich said in the official trailer for the documentary.
Lance Armstrong played a role in helping his former Tour de France rival get his life back on track, the two riding together in Mallorca and then the Texan visiting him in Germany.
Ullrich spent much of his troubled time in Mallorca but now lives in southern Germany with a new partner and often sees his children. He has created a bespoke cycling travel company called Re:Tour.
His life in 2018 was very different.
“Five years ago, I had my huge crash, and it was a matter of life and death. I lost almost everything, almost my life. I fought [my] way out of it with the help of friends, experts and of course family,” Ullrich said in Munich last week at the presentation of ‘Der Gejagte’ – ‘The Hunted’ four-part documentary series that will be released on Amazon Prime in Germany from November 28, the day of Ulrich’s 50th birthday.
“A lot of tears were shed, I had sleepless nights, I had panic attacks, but I was able to throw a weight off my shoulders,” Ullrich said of the two-year journey he took to reconcile with a past he described as ‘hell’.
Telling the truth
Ullrich and the documentary producers did not want to reveal the full details of his racing career and his inevitable doping confessions, but the now 49-year-old German suggested he has decided to tell ‘the truth’.
He appears to have moved away from the view that he didn’t cheat because many of his Tour de France rivals were doing the same thing at the time.
“It would be wrong to say that I haven’t deceived anyone. I was referring to my opponents, but…