Heyoka’s Workbench


Twenty-five years ago, on 15 July 1997, Jan Ullrich won the 10th stage of the Tour de France after a marvellous attack on the final kilometres up to Andorra. He took over the maillot jaune to never again part with it. On 27 July, aged only 23, he won the Tour.

Jan Ullrich was an outstanding athlete – and one of great sportsmanship, too – even though the shadows of doping have dimmed his fame.

Doping is against the rules, it can do considerable harm to the user, and – worst of all – it affects young athletes and their career options and decisions.

But still: the fierceness with which Ullrich and his colleagues were attacked and ostracised was way out of any proportion; and the bigotry and self-complacency of some journalists and TV folks acting as self-declared judges and trying to humiliate a man who, essentially, had done no harm to anyone was disgusting. Just as the delighted voyeurism with which many gloated over Ullrich’s subsequent personal downfall and crisis.

Doping is wrong. But has anyone ever won the Tour because of doping?

(Den deutschsprachigen Lesern meines Blogs möchte ich die fünfteilige Dokumentation über Jan Ullrichs Werdegang ans Herz legen, die noch bis zum 25.06.2023 in der Mediathek der ARD zu sehen ist: »Being Jan Ullrich«)

Drawing: “Jan Ullrich winning the 10th stage of the Tour de France 1997”