Jan Ullrich is admitted to a Swiss rehabilitation clinic, reports the German media image, which specifies that the trip to Switzerland of the only German who has won the Tour de France began last December 2 on the island of Cuba. There Ullrich celebrated his 48th birthday at a drug and alcohol party, and, according to mandatory gossip, to forget with his invited friends a recent breakup with his girlfriend. On the return trip to Europe he felt so bad that on his plane stopover in Mexico he had to be disembarked and admitted to a hospital. There, according to image, was visited by Lance Armstrong. When he has minimally recovered from his collapse, he will fly to Switzerland, the country where he resides when he is not in Mallorca, to enter a rehabilitation clinic, following, probably the same steps that led him to overcome a similar crisis in 2018.
Just three months ago, in the same Mallorca where he had been arrested in 2018 for jumping drunk, very drunk, the fence of the neighbor’s garden, who was partying, and setting up a big fight, the last violent act of a depression of loneliness —His wife and children went to Switzerland, next to Lake Constance, because they couldn’t take him anymore— and abandonment that had led him to buy plasma TV screens to have fun frying them with bullets. He traveled to Germany, where he was arrested for assaulting a woman in a hotel. He entered a Swiss clinic for the first time to purify himself, and that’s where Armstrong appeared, the man who made him self-conscious all his sporting life. She hugged him, went for a walk with him. The corresponding photo was taken. Ullrich said he was happy. That it would be cured. That I would only drink water.
Jan Ullrich is easy prey, a simple man for whom life is a roller coaster. In the clouds yesterday. Sunk today. In the clouds yesterday. Sunk today. Without peace. Without truce. And people live around him, they laugh at him, they pat him on the back, they vanish, and he reappears crying.
Depending on where you read the name of the German cyclist, you will quickly guess how life is going, and lately not very well. In his days as a great cyclist, when he was considered the Indurain of the East, a marvel that first defeated the Navarrese in a time trial of the Tour of 96, the physical act of taking the baton, and a year later he won the Tour, it was only written of him, and with the greatest admiration, in the sports media. Lance Armstrong began to defeat him without compassion and without mercy Tour after Tour, year after year, and, along with a certain Armstrongdependencia, the fragility hidden behind the tough child armor of East Germany, the Rostock of nuclear missiles, began to surface, where only the very strong grow and progress. “Ten years before I won it, when I was a 13 or 14 kid in cycling schools, I didn’t even know the Tour existed. I was a child caught in the GDR tornado ”, Ullrich explained not long ago in The team. “I was totally unaware, I didn’t know to what extent winning that race was going to change my life.”
A child who when he grew up a few years only remembered his father when he cut his hair very short and a scar on his skull was visible. “I had an alcoholic and violent father,” he said. “I remember the first big beating he gave me. I was six years old, and it left me that scar forever ”.
His internal struggle to live up to the expectations of others, his flirtation with doping and drugs and alcohol, also made him gain space in the press previously called yellow, sensationalist or morbid and, now, popular press. His retirement, at age 33, accelerated by Operation Puerto, the doping network organized by Eufemiano Fuentes, plunged him, after the usual noise of the dive, into the silence of submerged life. And from the bottom of the sea, from oblivion, it rises to the surface from time to time, like a dolphin that suffocates and every 10 minutes needs to fill the lungs with oxygen, and receives air and the slaps of life. His photo, his story, already appears only in the popular media, bad face, bad looks, a police report and a medical report accompanying the image.
Just three months ago, when autumn began in Mallorca, Armstrong went back to visit his now “friend of the soul”. The American outlaw, the narcissist who feeds on the admiration he arouses, in search of readmission to social life, in the body of so-called behavioral referents, traveled to the island with millionaires whom he charged good thousands of dollars for leaving them to accompany him pedaling him, the erased winner of seven Tours, and even promised that Ullrich would also join their marches. To further publicize the good deed of integrating Ullrich into the normalcy of champions, Armstrong organized a podcast in which the German thanked him for his friendship, because without his help he would not have been able to give up drugs and alcohol, which almost destroyed him, and that he had found pleasure in water and in simple life , in his new girlfriend, in visits to his four children… “Three years ago I had a very bad time and you came to visit me. You made me happy. Maybe you saved my life because I was just like Marco Pantani. Almost dead. But I recovered and now I have good friends, ”said Ullrich, who all his life had confessed, feared and hated, simultaneously, the American on whose behavior he depended. “God gave me this body and this talent. Either I am nothing or I am everything. I have a coach to take care of my back. I train every day. I drink water. I quit alcohol and drugs three years ago. I live very healthy, my girlfriend only cooks healthy food for me. I am fit and very happy ”.
At podcast, Armstrong surrenders to his already friend. “You changed my life completely,” the Texan confesses to the German. “You put me to the limit as a man.” And then, on his Instagram, Armstrong continues to steal the spotlight from the meeting. “Impossible to put into words what it means to me (and many millions more) to see this man recovered and healthy,” writes Armstrong. “I am so proud of you, champion … I just know that I love you deeply and that I will always be by your side.”
Reborn in Mallorca
A few days later, the German’s reintegration ceremony was completed with the celebration of Mallorca 312, the cycling march that made him the protagonist and that allowed cyclists of his time, such as Ullrich’s salvation army, to also feel happy. Joseba Beloki or Fernando Escartín, former clients of doctors Michele Ferrari or Eufemiano Fuentes, doping magicians in the 90s and the early 2000s. Doping patients like himself and Armstrong, and Pantani and Chava, both deceased victims of induced drug addiction,
All children of the same silence, from the feeling that they never did anything that others did not do, they took photos with him, everyone applauded him, swore eternal friendship, cheered him, and pedaled alongside him. It was the first time in his life that Ullrich had pedaled 312 kilometers in one go. Everyone was happy. Everyone talks about the importance of the mental health of the athlete, a victim of pressure and the desires of others. Everyone wants to be like Simone Biles, the gymnast who turned the Tokyo Games into the depression of success and the fear of flying and who in her last television and media appearance announces that she has overcome everything thanks to the help of psychiatric specialists , and that whoever wants to can go to them too, who are called Force Rehearsal and they also serve online.
Now, Jan Ullrich suffers in a clinic. Friends cry in the networks. Life is not as easy as a well-meaning movie.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.