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Former Tour winner Jan Ullrich confirms again: 'yes, I cheated'

Former professional cyclist Jan Ullrich speaks on stage after the screening of his documentary "Jan Ullrich - Der Gejagte" at the Sendlinger Tor movie theater. Former Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich has confirmed again that he doped during his career, saying it was widespread and accepted in the sport. Ullrich's career ended in 2006 after being kicked out by Team T-Mobile over the doping affair centring on Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. Angelika Warmuth/dpa

Former Tour de France champion Jan Ullrich has confirmed again that he doped during his career, saying it was widespread and accepted in the sport.

Ullrich's career ended in 2006 after being kicked out by Team T-Mobile over the doping affair centring on Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

He never confessed to doping practices until last November, saying instead for many years that "I never betrayed anyone."

On Saturday night, he reiterated on ZDF television that "in the end I cheated, yes. It wasn't right what we did."

Doping was wide-spread

Ullrich, 50, said he was naive early on and had a different view of the practices. He said team officials told him that doping was part of the sport across the board.

"From then on you naturally think about it, from then on you naturally want the same weapons. You don't want to come to the shoot-out with a knife, that's just the way it is," he said.

"You want to continue to show off your talent. I thought that was part of being a professional and then I went along with it."

The 1997 Tour winner Ullrich said of the then undetectable blood doping agent Epo: "When I heard that it was being used across the board, I wanted to be involved, yes."

State of shock after being kicked out

Ullrich said rejecting doping would "probably have meant the end of my career" and that he was in a "state of shock" when he was axed in 2006.

"You believe that you are doing nothing forbidden," he said, speaking for himself and the cycling community, and saying that the ruling body UCI had known about the practices but remained silent.

"I didn't want to believe that I was being taken out, especially not by my team, because they knew about it internally," he said.

Personal problems

Ullrich said his ensuing problems were the result of persistent doping allegations, as "I couldn't think of anything better than drugs and alcohol."

He now says "hands off those substances" but doesn't see it as his new role to give more evidence about the doping practices in his era.

‘I personally believe that the system can only be changed if the world governing body stays on the ball," he said.