FLORENCE, Italy (VN) — Retired German star cyclist Jan Ullrich returns to Europe for more substance abuse treatment after going through detox in Miami and is apologizing to people he hurt in the last several months.
Ullrich, the 1997 Tour de France winner, is facing assault allegations linked to three separate incidents. He is seeking help for his drug use, aided in part by former rival Lance Armstrong.
“I learned a lot during the detox phase in Miami,” Ullrich wrote in a letter published by Bild.
“I was surrounded by people with a similar fate and by very good therapists and doctors. I am now aware that I am ill for reasons that I do not want to address today.”
In August, the 44-year-old was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. He had been detained for allegedly assaulting a prostitute in a Frankfurt hotel. The incident followed a 24-hour detention in Mallorca, Spain, after he was accused of forcing his way into his neighbor’s home, German actor Til Schweiger, and threatening him.
The cycling community reacted with alarm. Armstrong flew to Germany to offer his help. Ullrich took him up on it and flew to the U.S. Before departing, it was reported he “suddenly assaulted” a man in the security check zone at Hamburg airport.
Ullrich said his troubles began due to a difficult relationship with his ex-wife Sara over their children. He first attended a rehab clinic Bad Brückenau, Germany, and then the one in Miami. Now, he returns for a six-week course.
“I have four wonderful children who truly love me. No matter if I am successful or not. It cannot outweigh any money in the world,” he said.
“I know that my former competitor Lance Armstrong offered his help like others. I am very grateful for that. However, I have to find my own way. And this path began with the realization that I needed help.”
The doctor in Miami recommended that Ullrich complete his detoxification at home in Germany before returning back to the U.S.
“Because there will be many details in the therapy that I need to understand,” Ullrich added. “I also want to spend time with my children before returning to the U.S.”
He remains the only German to have won the Tour de France. He also won the Olympic road race in Sydney in 2000.
Ullrich was linked to the Operación Puerto doping scandal, which led to Team T-Mobile banning him from the 2006 Tour and eventually releasing him. He quit cycling and never raced again.
In 2013, Ullrich opened up about his drug use as a cyclist. That same year, after being stripped of his seven Tour wins, Armstrong admitted to doping.
Ullrich said recently that he had used cocaine and amphetamines while having problems with his ex-wife.
“Not everyone affected has the possibilities like me. I want to encourage people to be vigilant, be it in your circle of friends or at work, because there are many destinies, where just one friend can make the difference,” he said.
“I want to motivate fellow sufferers to deal openly with an illness. And I ask you to never to condemn others for symptoms, but to treat sufferers with understanding and compassion.
“What matters is whether the one who falls is ready to get up and fight for the second chance in life. I’ll try that. And I will not hide anymore.
“Nevertheless, I ask you to grant me the necessary rest in the next few weeks and to respect my privacy. I will keep you up-to-date!”