By Jonny Long
Jan Ullrich is said to be doing much better, according to his former sports director Rudy Pevenage, the two remaining in contact to this day.
Pevenage recently released his autobiography, which discussed his involvement with Ullrich and his doping, with friends of the former Team Telekom rider apparently calling him up to verbally abuse him over the book.
Despite this, the 65-year-old says he and Ullrich remain friends, and the latter is well again after battling with drink and drug problems in recent years.
"Our friendship continues. After the book was published, friends of Jan called me and insulted me. However, they did not read the book and they certainly did not understand it," Pevenage told Sportbuzzer. "I didn't speak to Jan for a month. We talked about it in March and Jan told me that he trusted me. He recently sent me a photo of himself. He's fine. I'm still his grandpa, everything is as before."
Ullrich was admitted to a rehab clinic in 2018 to deal with his addiction issues, while also dealing with problems in his personal life, with Pevenage present to help Ullrich during these dark moments.
"Two or three years ago I was with Jan in Mallorca every week. He was having a very hard time. He had knee problems, problems with his wife, was not allowed to see his children and was sitting alone in Mallorca. For him the world had perished," Pevenage revealed, before adding that Ullrich is now doing much better. "Now he's back with friends in Freiburg and he's fine.
"Jan has never had an argument. He was popular in the peloton - unlike Lance Armstrong. But Jan has a problem: Firstly, he was investigated in Germany and then destroyed by newspapers. He is a hero in Belgium or Italy. No matter where I show up, people ask about him. He is forgotten in Germany."
The turmoil caused by his doping confession and problems in his personal life means Ullrich leads a private existence at present, but Pevenage says he wants to see Ullrich's public image rehabilitated and for the German to enter back into public life at some point in the future.
"Jan has to come outside again. But he still needs time, he should make the decision himself. I would like to help him with that and I know other people who would like to. Everybody deserves a second chance," Pevenage said. "Jan didn't do anything bad, he could have won the Tour three times, become world champion and Olympic champion twice. He is a star."
In the recent ESPN documentary on Lance Armstrong, the Texan reveals he travelled to Mallorca to visit Ullrich in 2018 and help the rider he describes as "the most important person in my life".
"It’s just a terrible situation. Jan was in that era, that cesspool that we were all in, and he got caught, we all got caught, and the reason I went to see him is I love him," Armstrong says in the documentary, struggling to compose himself.
"When I look at Jan’s situation and I look at my situation, because they’re very similar, the timing is very similar… he had all the things I had. He had a wife, children, money, and that wasn’t enough to keep him together."
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