Ullrich finished second behind the disgraced American on three occasions between the years of 1999 and 2005, yet he does not believe Armstrong’s victories should be discarded following his admittance of wide-scale doping:
I would give Armstrong the Tour victories back. ... That’s how it was back then. It doesn’t help anyone to draw a line through the winners’ list.
I only want victories that I’ve experienced on the bike. I don’t want to win anything at the green table.
Armstrong is the most iconic cyclist of his era, winning the Tour seven times, a feat made even more staggering by the fact he was diagnosed with testicular cancer—which spread to his brain and lungs—three years before his first Tour triumph.
However, after years of public denials he finally confessed in January that he had in fact been part of a large-scale, sophisticated doping program in all seven of the years in which he won the Yellow Jersey.
Ullrich is a self-confessed user of banned substances as well, and was stripped of third place in 2005. His 1997 Tour victory, however, still stands.
A French Senate inquiry, per The Hindu, in July regarding the 1998 Tour revealed a plethora of participants guilty of substance abuse, including runner-up Ullrich and winner Marco Pantani, who died from a drug overdose in 2004. Italians Erik Zabel and Mario Cipollini, Spain’s Abraham Olano and France’s Laurent Jalabert were also identified in the report.
For Ullrich, doping was merely a measure to “level the playing field,” per The Hindu, and he remains candid and unapologetic about his actions throughout his career.
It is for that reason he does not believe Armstrong, who was banned for life by the United States Anti Doping Agency in 2012, should have his titles wiped from the record books.