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GENEVA (AFP) — Germany’s only Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich was allegedly almost three times over the drunk-driving limit when he crashed his car and injured two people in Switzerland, a newspaper reported Wednesday.
The retired star, who last year admitted to doping, initially told the tabloid Blick that alcohol was not involved in the accident but he later came
out with a statement apologising for getting behind the wheel drunk.
“Driving under the influence of alcohol is inexcusable. It’s a huge mistake, and I deeply regret it,” Ullrich, who lives in Switzerland, wrote on his website.
“I’m sorry. Thank God that nobody died,” the retired star, who last year admitted to doping, was quoted as telling Swiss tabloid Blick.
“I was under stress, I was coming from an appointment and I wanted to get home as soon as possible,” added Ullrich, who lives in Switzerland.
Police in the Thurgau region, where Monday night’s crash occurred, said in a statement that a man responsible for a crash failed a breathalyzer test and was stripped of his driver’s license on the spot.
The test revealed a level of 1.4 grams of alcohol per liter of blood. The legal limit in Switzerland is 0.5 grams.
Follow up tests were due on blood and urine samples, police said.
According to Blick, Ullrich said that he was driving 20 kilometers (12 miles) per hour over the speed limit.
“My God, this could happen to anyone,” Blick quoted him as saying.
The newspaper wrote that he was categorical that alcohol was not to blame for the crash, which occurred outside the village of Mattwil in northern Switzerland.
“There wasn’t any alcohol involved,” Ullrich said earlier, before confessing via his website.
Contacted by AFP, Thurgau police declined to name Ullrich.
“We never give any information about the identity of people involved people in a case of a car accident,” they said.
In the statement, they said simply that a 41-year-old driver failed to brake in time at a junction and crashed into the back of another vehicle which had pulled up at a stop sign.
While Ullrich turned 40 last December, it is standard practice for Swiss police to give a person’s age according to their next birthday, if it falls in the year in which an incident occurs.
The car that was hit was thrown into a field, overturned and then came to rest on its wheels, while the 41-year-old’s car went on to collide with another vehicle and also went off the road.
Two people were taken to hospital. The police said the driver to blame for the crash was not injured.
The accident caused tens of thousands of Swiss francs (euros, dollars) of damage, police said.
A silver Audi A6 — which Blick said was Ullrich’s — stood in a field next to the road with its bumper caved in.
On the other side was a red Citroen C3, the rear of which had taken the impact of the crash, while a white Alfa Romeo remained in the middle of the road.
Ullrich, who retired in 2007 having won the 1997 Tour, admitted for the first time in June 2013 to doping during his career with transfusions, using his own blood, by Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.
The German, who also won road-race gold and time-trial silver medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said he was motivated by the desire to compete against his rivals on a level-playing field.
In February 2012, Ullrich was found guilty of a doping offense by the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS) and retrospectively banned from August 2011 and all his results since May 2005 were removed.
Now Ullrich lives with his wife Sara and three sons on the shores of Lake Constance in Switzerland.