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by Shane Stokes
August 12, 2018
Photography by Kristof Ramon
Arrested just over a week ago in Mallorca and again this week after allegedly assaulting a prostitute, Jan Ullrich was taken to a psychiatric hospital on Friday.
Ullrich had been detailed following the assault on the escort girl at the five-star Villa Kennedy Hotel in Frankfurt. Ullrich reportedly got into an argument with her and choked her, leading to her reporting the matter to hotel employees.
Police were notified and arrested him. “Currently, the accused is being investigated for attempted manslaughter and dangerous assault,” local police said in statement.
Ullrich was released on bail on Friday but, according to the DPA news agency, suffered a panic attack afterwards. “Jan Ullrich was admitted to a psychiatric hospital on Friday night where his state of health is being assessed by specialists,” a Frankfurt police spokesperson told AFP on Saturday.
“Due to his mental and physical state there was no other choice [but to transport him to a psychiatric unit by ambulance],” said that spokesperson.
Prosecutors and police issued a joint statement where they said that when officers arrived at the hotel to arrest him after the assault, he put up a struggle. They said that they believed he was “likely under the influence of alcohol and drugs.”
After Ullrich trespassed on the property of German actor and film director Til Schweiger on Friday August 3, he was arrested. Following his release he said that his marriage had broken down and that he had not seen his children since Christmas. He said that this put him ‘into the deepest despair,’ that he had been abusing drink and drugs, and that he was awaiting a place on a rehabilitation programme.
Schweiger said that he and Ullrich had previously been friends, but that the 1997 Tour de France winner had been acting strangely recently. He claimed he was abusing amphetamines, wasn’t sleeping properly at night and indicated he may also have been taking cocaine.
Ullrich travelled back to Germany to undertake rehab, but then became embroiled in the latest controversy.
“The accused is under investigation for attempted manslaughter and grievous bodily harm,” said police and prosecutors. “Investigations are not over.” They added that Ullrich has availed of his right to remain silence, while the escort had given what they termed “extensive details on the attacks.”
In addition to his Tour de France win, Ullrich finished second overall five times, and won the Vuelta a España in 1999. He retired following the Operacion Puerto scandal.
The 44 year old has had previous tangles with the law. In May 2002 his driving licence was revoked due to drunk driving. The following month he had a positive blood sample for amphetamines, and lost his contract with Team Telekom. He later said that he had taken two tablets while out socialising, calling the decision ‘a stupidity.’
In May 2014 he injured two people in a car crash in Switzerland while over the alcohol limit. He was later handed a fine of 10,000 Swiss Francs and given a 21 months suspended prison sentence.
Ullrich’s fellow competitor Marco Pantani, who he beat in the 1997 Tour and who beat him the following year, tragically died of cocaine addiction in 2004. Another pro rider from the same era, Frank Vandenbrouke, had similar struggles with recreational drugs and passed away in 2009.
Ullrich’s decline has raised concerns about his health and his future; while his transport to the psychiatric hospital was a decision taken by others, it will hopefully begin to turn things around for the troubled ex-professional.
Ullrich recently said that going into rehab was a condition for him to be allowed to see his children again.