“I’m not thinking about these titles. I don’t know the details of the process. I’m proud of my second-place finishes,” the 1997 Tour winner said of his runner-up spots behind the American.
Ullrich was speaking after the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) said Armstrong would be banned for life and stripped of all seven of his Tour titles following his decision to abandon a case against drug charges that have tainted his legacy.
Last February, Ullrich was suspended for two years for a doping violation related to a Spanish police investigation into an illegal performance-enhancing drug network and all his results after May 2005 were annulled. But his Tour de France runner-up spots in 2000, 2001 and 2003 would stand, meaning he could theoretically be declared the winner retroactively.
German daily Die Welt ran an op-ed on Friday, headlined “Whatever you do, don’t make a hero of Ullrich!” It argued that the USADA decision was a chance the sport could not afford to miss. For that reason, it should not declare Ullrich or anyone else the Tour winner in his place.
It pointed out that not only been found guilty of doping himself, he had never done anything substantial to clear up the crisis in the sport. “To make Ullrich a hero after the fact would be fatal and would contradict the message that fraud doesn’t pay,” the paper said.
Another German cyclist, Andreas Klöden could also replace Armstrong as Tour winner for the 2004 edition, after he finished runner-up.
But Klöden has also been accused of doping in 2009 by experts tasked by the University of Freiburg to probe the work of two doctors in charge of medical support for the T-Mobile team in 2006.