Life’s A Holiday For Birthday-Boy Jan Ullrich

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BERLIN, Dec 01, 2013 (AFP) – Germany’s only Tour de France winner Jan
Ullrich turns 40 on Monday with the controversial cyclist insisting he has
come to terms with his doping past.

Ullrich, who retired in 2007 having won the 1997 Tour, admitted for the
first time last June 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 Olympic Games, 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 offence 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.

He spends his days looking after his growing family and makes a living from
professional engagements, such as taking part in cycle rides with fee-paying
fans.

“Overall, I feel totally happy,” says Ullrich, who looks fit enough to race
still.

“The life I now lead would be a holiday for many people.”

But nearly seven years after retiring, Ullrich’s doping offences have never
been fully explained.

“I have finished with the subject,” Ullrich told German radio broadcaster
NDR.

“I have taken my punishment, I regret what I did and I stand behind my
mistakes.”

Legal troubles still hang over Ullrich, who has been taken to court in the
wake of his June confession by a former team sponsor who wants three month’s
of salary back.

The case will be heard in Essen, Germany, next February.

And Ullrich refuses to comment on a report from the French Senate, released
in July, which named him as one of the cyclists who retroactively tested
positive for the banned blood booster EPO during the 1998 Tour.

“I have to live with the bad and good,” he said, adding that he likes to
live “in the present” and does not like to look back.

“I can live with it comfortably as I have my life back on track.”

While Lance Armstrong’s full doping admission rocked the cycling world in
January, there has never been — and there is unlikely to ever be — a similar
confession from his German rival.

Ullrich says he draws strength from his family and meeting with
enthusiastic fans.

“This is a good thing for me and it’s motivating. It kind of shows that
people still like me,” he said.

“That makes me feel good.”

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