Jan Ullrich, winner of the Tour de France in 1997, has been admitted to a Swiss clinic after relapsing into alcoholism, according to a report in the German newspaper, Bild.
The German ex-pro cyclist, who turned 48 on 2 December, had been in Cuba celebrating his birthday with friends and was reported to have been completely drunk when he boarded a flight to Mexico, from where he planned to return to Europe.
He was taken to a hospital in Mexico, and is now in Switzerland to continue his rehab, says Bild.
In September, Ullrich appeared on former rival Lance Armstrong’s The Move podcast where he recounted his past struggles with drugs and alcohol.
He told Armstrong: “Three years ago I had big problems and then you came to see me. I was so happy you came. I was in the same way as Marco Pantani. Nearly dead"
“I forgot for a long time what is good for me.
“All I remember is 20 years ago, or 15 years ago. Then I forgot what is good for me. Cycling is good. Hanging out with friends. Love. My kids, my family. All this – I forget this. That was my problem ....
“God give me this body and God give me this talent. I’m nothing or full gas. I have my coach for my back muscles. I train every day. I drink water. I stopped alcohol and drugs three years ago. I live very healthy, my girlfriend cooking very healthy for me. And this all together brings me in very good shape and good feeling.”
“I have good friends and a good team at home. I’m not alone and that’s important. I needed help, and now I have the help.”
Those problems three years ago included being banned from seeing his children following a break-up with his wife, and he was also admitted to a psychiatric unit for several weeks after an incident involving an escort in a five-star hotel in Frankfurt which saw him investigated for alleged attempted manslaughter and grievous bodily harm.
Since then, he was said to have made a recovery from his addictions and had set up home in Mallorca with his girlfriend, his problems with drugs and alcohol apparently behind him – until his latest relapse.
As well as his 1997 Tour de France victory, Ullrich also won the road race at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and was twice world time trial champion.
He retired in 2007, and in 2013 admitted doping, having been handed a two-year ban the previous year for his links to Operacion Puerto, with his results since May 2005 annulled.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.