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Jan Ullrich: The Best There Never Was

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Doping is more of a background story, as you would expect from a cycling story from the 90s, it certainly isn’t the main issue covered in this book and it certainly doesn’t lay the blame at the feet of the DDR. As I said previously the author went to great lengths to not just make the book a lazy finger pointing job at the old East. Although cases of doping on minors in the DDR were actually reported, the doping angle looks totally misplaced here, especially considering the Keulephant in the Room: Ullrich spent a couple of years in a KJS, at most three, as an early teenager, whereas pretty much his whole pro career happened at Telekom / T-Mobile over more than a decade.

Note the disproportionate relative weight of whatever *supposed* doping Ullrich *might* have experienced when 13 to 15 in the DDR, and… the huge rest of his sporting experience – including lots of proven facts about him himself and his team – but now we’re *even* speaking “doping in the DDR”: that explains better than anything else what I’m trying to communicate about perspective, stereotypes, idées reçues and so on. Yet this put him on a pedestal and the move from cheer to adulation, and the risks this brings are well set out in this book. It’s “the same USADA” (not exactly *the same* of course), covering up doped Olympic medallists or catching Lance.It’s an irony of sort that they were founded the same year when Keul was elected President of the German Association of Sports Physician. Well apparently Gabriele is very sensitive about East Germany… As Inrng often says, it gives more informations about you than about the subject when you react so strongly to what is at worst a slightly deflected review of a book you didn’t read. Think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick here, but perhaps I should have explained things better, especially as doping is always a topic that provokes reactions.

I guess I’d need to read it but frankly from what inrng reports the focus on DDR doping and so on looks laughable at best, especially when speaking of a prominent Telekom athlete. He was soon also voted Germany’s most popular sportsperson of all time, and his rivalry with Lance Armstrong defined the most controversial years of the Tour de France. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it certainly isn’t an assassination piece on the DDR, which, if I understand you correctly is what you’re assuming? Germany has Doping Opfer Hilfe, literally “Doping Victim Help” and it’s run almost on similar ways to those who might have been given wrongful medical treatment.The possibility of doping in the DDR days is perhaps more about Ullrich’s upbringing as a child and the person he became, but as suggested above, the danger is ersatz psychology. Now the two systems are different in obvious ways that a book review doesn’t need to cover, readers can reflect on this. Jan Ullrich: The Best There Never Was is the first biography of Jan Ullrich, arguably the most naturally talented cyclist of his generation, and also one of the most controversial champions of the Tour de France. Obviously doping is a key topic but mainly because of the times not solely because he was born in the DDR. Then came 1997 and Stage 10 from Luchon to Arcalis, a ski station in Andorra whose name today still seems to evoke Ullrich’s ascent, the day he rode the field off his wheel, his flat back, a gold earning dangling and the black, red, gold bands of the Bundesflagge on his jersey.

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