1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich, who was arrested in Mallorca on Friday evening after reportedly jumping over a neighbour’s fence, has said that separation from his wife and children has “thrown me into the deepest despair” and that he is undergoing treatment for addiction.
On Saturday, a court in Palma issued a restraining order against the German ex-pro cyclist who was alleged to have entered the property of his compatriot, the actor and film director Til Schweiger, uninvited, with a “brawl” between the pair ensuing.
Putting his side of the story to the magazine Bild, Ullrich said: “I rang the bell but since no-one answered, I decided to go in. There was a friend of Til there who lost control and who tried to give me a Kung Fu-style kick that I managed to evade, then the police arrived.”
Schweiger told Bild that he and Ullrich had previously been close but their relationship had deteriorated after the break-up of the latter’s marriage.
He said that Ullrich “had almost become a family member but when his wife left him he started taking amphetamines: he would only sleep for two hours.
“He’d start drinking beer at 6am and went on like that until the evening. He also told me that he had a prescription for cocaine."
Ullrich’s lawyer, Wolfgang Hoppe, has said that his client is waiting for a place in a rehabilitation clinic.
Aged 44, Ullrich retired in 2007 after a career that saw him win the Tour de France in 1997 – he was also runner-up in the race five times – the gold medal in the road race at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and two world time trial championships.
He was banned twice for doping, the first time in 2002 when he tested positive for amphetamines.
On that occasion he was handed a minimal six-month suspension since the German federation ruled he had used the drug for recreational purposes rather to enhance performance.
Last year, a court in Switzerland fined him and gave him a 21-month suspended prison sentence for drink-driving and speeding.
Twice married, Ullrich told Bild about the effect that the break-up of his latest marriage is having on him.
"The separation from my wife Sara, and consequently from my children, has thrown me into the deepest despair,” he said.
“I haven’t seen my boys since Christmas, and we also find it difficult to speak to each other.
“This extreme situation has made me do and take things that I very much regret.”
He added: “For my children’s sake, I’m undergoing therapy. I became agoraphobic. I couldn’t sleep.
“This has been one of the toughest episodes of my life.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.