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Tinkoff-Saxo manager and former team owner Bjarne Riis has revealed that he suffered from depression last year as a result of the doping allegations that surround him.
“There have been some tough months. Very tough. But I have prioritized myself. It has been necessary,” Riis said in a documentary, due to be broadcast on Danish channel DR1 on Thursday. “It was a period when I could not make any decisions. It's uncomfortable because you cannot give anything. You cannot be there for anyone else, you cannot be there for yourself.”
Since admitting to doping in 2007, Riis has found himself dogged by more allegations and investigations. Both Tyler Hamilton and Michael Rasmussen have alleged that he was aware of the doping practices of his riders. He is also under investigation by the Danish Anti-Doping Authority. Riis says that this and the media attention all became too much for him.
“At some point, you are struck, and then it just becomes too much,” Riis said, according to Ekstrabladet.dk. “I have a lot of baggage from my childhood that has never been processed. There have been many things that have come in recent years. When I came clean in 2007 - the process I went through. When my father died. My mother died recently, which no one knows. And then there was Tyler's past with the pressure that has been from the press.”
The documentary called "Riis – Forfra" [Riis - Back to the Beginning] followed the Saxo-Tinkoff manager from spring 2012 to watch as the Dane attempted to ‘resurrect’ his team. Things changed, however, when Tyler Hamilton’s book The Secret Race was released at the end of 2012, where the American said his former boss knew of doping within the team.
Riis spoke a little about the allegations in the book saying, “I cannot be sure that no one doped. It’s not possible. They are guarantees I cannot provide.” Those eager to hear any new revelations from Riis will be disappointed, however, as the Dane kept much of the subject off limits.
There has been some good news for Riis in recent months. In December, it was announced Russian businessman Oleg Tinkov bought the Saxo-Tinkoff team from him for €6 million. The former rider will be kept on as the head directeur sportif, with a three-year contract worth €3 million. Riis believes that this is a crucial time for him.
“Now I have to either get a grip on myself and this here. Or should I just cut it,” he said. “I have a process going on, and it seems I started okay. I'm on the right track, but it takes time.”