When a cyclist gets caught doping, there are generally two ways of dealing with the shame. You can go the David Millar route of first denying it, then accepting it and finally speaking out about the pressures under which young riders succumb to temptation. Or you can be Alberto Contador, blaming a failed test on some dodgy steak and maintaining your innocence even when pronounced guilty.
But the disgraced Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich has taken a rather different tack by becoming brand ambassador for a German hair stimulating lotion, which has the slogan: ‘Doping for the hair’.
The deal was announced on Wednesday, a day before Ullrich was handed a two-year ban in relation to a blood-doping scandal that engulfed his sport six years ago.
Ullrich appeared at a press conference in Bielefeld, Germany, to announce he was to become the face of the Alpecin Cycling Day, a new cyclo-sportive for amateur cyclists, which bears the name of the hair-loss product. Ullrich was quoted as saying: “After a long break I have won back my love of cycle sport. I am pleased to have Alpecin as a strong partner which shares this passion.”
East German-born Ullrich became the first German to win the Tour de France in 1997 and won Olympic gold and silver medals at the Sydney 2000 Games.
The rider also finished second in the tour on five occasions, three of them behind the seven-times champion Lance Armstrong.
He retired in 2007 under a cloud after being implicated in Operacion Puerto, a series of Spanish police raids that uncovered more than 200 codenamed blood bags, some of which were linked to cyclists.
“His example shows that you can not only rise to the top but also fall back down. Then it’s all about getting yourself back up again.,” said Eduard R Dorrenberg, managing director of the Dr Wolff group.