OK – so that headline is not precisely accurate. I meant it more as a striking analogy to the sports phenomenon reported today by the German newsmagazine Focus. Everyone can now rest assured that professional bicycle-racing is now an ultra-clean sport in which nobody would think of cheating – so declared infamous doper Jan Ullrich today in an interview on the “Eurosport” TV channel.
“Cycling is one of the cleanest sports,” Ullrich declared to his interviewer, “because there are so many checks/inspections [Ger. Kontrollen].” Why, his German colleague Andreas Klöden, now riding in the Tour de France, told him about being subjected already to no less than eight checks – and at this point the 2009 Tour still has four stages to go! Ullrich:
The guys are thrown out of bed at six-thirty in the morning, an inspector comes in the room and stays with them the entire time . . . always at your side, at the toilet, in the shower, as you brush your teeth, to take blood from you at any time. You can go too far with it.
I would wager that it is rather Ullrich who is going rather too far with his description. Just to remind readers who do not follow cycling closely, Ullrich was disqualified from participating in the 2006 Tour de France one day before it was supposed to start because evidence emerged linking him with “Operación Puerto,” a blood-doping sting operation undertaken by the Spanish authorities. Ullrich vehemently denied having anything to do with the doping operations by a certain Dr. Eufamiano Fuentes uncovered by “Operación Puerto,” but months later a sample of his blood did match the DNA of the blood seized in that investigation.
Upon announcing his retirement from cycling in Hamburg in February of 2007, Ullrich maintained that “I never once cheated as a cyclist.” On the other hand, don’t forget that embedded YouTube video I have at the end of my post on the Tour de France of earlier this month, showing Ullrich bicycling up a mountain in 1997 exhibiting an output of power – an estmated 480 watts – itself way outside the range which even doped Olympic sprinters find possible.