Jonathan Breyne says that the reactions on internet forums to his positive clenbuterol test drove him to attempt suicide last month.
In an interview with L'Équipe, Breyne spoke candidly about his life since finding out about the positive test and what drove him to such desperate measures. “The comments from the fans drove me to act out,” he told the French sports paper. “I could not stand being called a cheater when I 'm not. I took my car, I parked in a parking lot near where my girlfriend works. I took pills.”
Breyne was fortunate that his girlfriend found him within five minutes of his overdose and rushed him to hospital, where the staff pumped his stomach. “I deeply regret doing this for my family, my friends, all the people who support me . But the reactions I read on the forums are always in my head, and it's hard to turn the page.”
It isn't just a possible ban that Breyne has to face, he will also have to pay a year's salary to the MPCC, as his former team Crelan-Euphony are a member of the organisation. He has also had his pay stopped by his team and, after recently buying a house, he will have to survive on unemployment benefits.
While Breyne has recovered physically from the suicide attempt, he is still struggling mentally with the collapse of his career. “I'm still broken, I want to cry,” he told L'Equipe. “Since I learned of my positive control, I haven't been back on the bike. It is not the rain that bothers me, but I do not want anything.”
Breyne tested positive for clenbuterol after riding at the Tour de Hainan and Tour of Taihu Lake in October and November of last year. The Belgian rider has maintained that the substance came from contaminated meat, which is a notorious issue in China. The UCI have advised riders to avoid eating meat when in the country, but Breyne says that he was under the impression it was ok.
"I'm a big meat eater. Fred Amorison ( team-mate) , who had already raced in China, brought ten pounds of cans. I am not able to eat canned food for twenty-eight days,” he explained. “In the race road-book, it said that the food at the hotel was guaranteed to be without clenbuterol. We received meal trays after the stage, and I did not know that it was in the meat.”
Michael Rogers, was also suspended by his Tinkoff-Saxo team after he tested positive for clenbuterol during a trip to China for the Tour of Beijing. Both riders will use the same lawyer, but with no team backing and little money left in the bank Breyne has had to turn to his parents for financial support.
Doping cases can drag on for a long time and Breyne is now having to think about his life without cycling. “I'm afraid of what will happen I have to think about my future,” he says. “I trained as a painter decorator, I put the tiles up at home, I know how to use my hands, but I prefer to win my life with my legs."