Bjarne Riis says that he has been suffering from periods of depression ever since Tyler Hamilton alleged in his 2012 book, that he introduced him to "doping". Additionally, the former Tour de France winner says that his condition was worsened by further allegations contained in Michael Rasmussen’s book last November – alleging that he knew all about his "doping" while a member of the CSC-Tiscali team.
In a soon to be released documentary titled – ‘Riis – From the Front’, the 49 year-old Dane told journalist Niels Christian Jung, that he’s been dealing with periods of disappear and intense pressure ever since the stories broke.
“It’s been some tough months. Very tough,” Riis says, according to Ekstra Bladet. “I’ve not been around much, and there are probably a lot of people who would have liked to have seen me in the media. But I have had to prioritised. I have given priority to myself. It was necessary that I took a little time for myself.
“At some point you are struck, and then it becomes just too much,” he explains. “A special day I could feel that now it went wrong. Now analysing it, I think that I have a lot of things in the baggage from my childhood, that I’ve never worked through.
“Many things that have come in recent years,” he adds. “When I came forward in 2007 – I went through the process. When my father died. The process. My mother died recently, and this is not something anyone knows. And so there have been entire Tyler story, with the pressure that has been from the press.”
Riis goes on to describe a two-month period where he was sitting at home in Switzerland. powerless to act on anything, due to the extent of his depression.
“Then came a period when it was not possible to make any decisions, and the whole thing slides. You can’t concentrate, you can’t do a lot really…” he explains. “At some point, there is no more space in your backpack, and so it has to be emptied.
“It’s uncomfortable because you can not give anything. You can’t be there for anyone else – you can’t be there for yourself.”
Riis does feel that his state of mind has improved however. Particularly after the recent sale of his team to Oleg Tinkov last month.
“Now I have to either get a grip on myself and this here, or I should just drop it,” he says. “The process I have going on seems to have started okay. I’m on the right track, but it takes time.”
Riis plans to stay onboard as general member of his former team for the next three years. It remains to be seen if his role will be impacted if charges stemming from the Hamilton’s or Rasmussen’s allegations come to bear.
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