The German and Danish press come out blazing and demanding answers after Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso’
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Germany sports fans were saved from a black day on Friday when Jens Lehmann saved two penalties and sent the German team through to the World Cup semi-finals, but Jan Ullrich’s fall from grace still made major headlines, writes Susanne Horsdal.
In Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Carl Tore Philippsen wrote in a commentary that we shouldn’t kid ourselves. “Anyone who now cries out in outrage should sit down and relax. We all knew it. The spectators, the journalists, the sponsors, also the officials, the athletes, the trainers and the team doctors. Anyone knows that no clean rider can win the Tour de France.”
In a commentary on the website of German TV station ARD, Ullrich’s ejection was viewed as an advantage for the sport’s future. “The size of this new case clearly exceeds the Festina scandal from 1998 that almost led to the collapse of cycling. But apparently the protagonists have learned nothing from that. The cheating goes on. The only chance to end this is to suspend riders on even the smallest suspicion. That’s the only road to maybe save a completely poisoned sport. That’s why the chucking out of Ullrich is a good sign,” wrote Michael Schreiber.
And in the tabloid Bild Zeitung, Ullrich was asked to come clean. “The bike hero is crashed. Millions of fans have lost faith in their idol. If Jan Ullrich really loves his sport, he has only one option. He must help to dry up this doping swamp. He can’t hide anything but must tell the whole truth. He owe that to his fans who’ve remained faithful to him over the years and whom he has now let down so bitterly,” wrote Matthias Brgelmann.
Saturday’s Danish media was filled with comments and speculation, not least about Ivan Basso and Bjarne Riis’ possible connection with the affair. “The ticklish question and what either topples it or makes Riis’ life’s work stand, is his own role. No sports director has probably ever been so close to a rider for so long as Bjarne Riis to Basso. It’s hard to imagine that Basso should have used a form of doping as complicated as blood doping without Riis having a whiff of something. CSC is a team with a high profile and a shining halo, noble values and an ethical charter. A Basso fall will hit Riis with double force,” wrote BT‘s sports editor Peter Brchmann in the paper’s editorial.
He goes on to praise the means used to reveal doping in cycling. “It’s the right way to go about it. The scary part is to think what would happen if the same methods were used in track and field and football,” he continued.
In Ekstra Bladet, Lars Werge wrote about cycling being the sport of lies. “After the Festina scandal in 1998 the impression was that the wounds had healed and the lesson had been learned: doping was over. But with Ullrich, Basso and all the other pro riders from the Spanish list it has been underlined that you can’t trust bike riders. Because they lie. Bjarne Riis more than any other in Tour de France has problems escaping that fact right now. He wants us to believe him. But the same Bjarne Riis, who once said that he’s never tested positive, yesterday sent Ivan Basso home without giving him the opportunity to explain himself to the press.”