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Doping scandals sent Riis into a depression

Cycling News
January 9, 12:41,
January 9, 13:46
First Edition Cycling News, Thursday, January 9, 2014
Bjarne Riis has attracted a new sponsor to his squad.

Bjarne Riis has attracted a new sponsor to his squad.

  • Bjarne Riis has attracted a new sponsor to his squad.
  • Alberto Contador and Bjarne Riis address questions at the press conference in Murat
  • US Tyler Hamilton (CSC) in the 2003 Tour de France
  • Denmark's Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank) won stage 16 of the 2006 Tour.

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Former team owner speaks in Danish documentary

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 “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.”

Broth3r 9 months ago
I won't pass judgement, but people, do realize this: idiots and cheats can catch depressions too.
philjthommo 9 months ago
Not passing judgement just asserting judgement?
PCM Geek 9 months ago
For somebody not passing judgement your comment really looks like you are passing judgement.
sbroaddus 9 months ago
i see no judgement from Broth3r, just a reasonable opinion.
KatoMiler 9 months ago
Yep, honestly, I wish him well. For all that's not been dealt with, no time like the present to start, turn and face all of it, do some REAL soul searching. He's made his bed, now he's sleeping in it. I don't for a second defend his transgressions. Again, I wish him well. Truly, the only way out is through. And the only way through is rigorous, personal honesty. A lot of the time that requires professional help. Good luck 2 u Bjarne.
RobbieCanuck 9 months ago
Labeling a person an idiot is as judgmental as it gets. It is also defamatory. Riis may have engaged in idiotic behaviour in many peoples mind, although there are clearly better adjectives such as ill-advised behaviour, foolish behaviour, improper behaviour etc. But he is not an idiot. It Is clear Riis harbors remorse and guilt about his drug use as it is reflected by his depression. Depression is an illness that kills. Just ask Jonathon Breyne. We need commentators to these stories with a lot more brains, nderstanding and empathy than this one. This comment is the problem with CN. There are huge numbers of people who don't think before they mouth off with a simplistic and yes idiotic comment.
sbroaddus 9 months ago
Riis was a cheat at one time, yes, he cheated to win the Tour, and if you do that, it is understandable that one might call you an idiot. This commenter stopped a half step short of calling Riis an idiot - no defamation issue, i know, it's splitting hairs, but it must be said in light of your sanctimonious claim. Riis is a big boy, an excellent team manager and strategist, and I imagine he has heard this before, will hear it again, and he understands that there are certain fans that will find it hard to forgive him.
RobbieCanuck 9 months ago
If you cannot recognize when someone is being called an idiot, you have real problems. I don't like cheats anymore than the next guy but what a lot of brain dead commentators to CN forget is that it is easy to slag someone anonymously. Riis may be a big boy but you have no understanding of depression if you think he has been able to ignore the hate and invective hurled his way without it affecting his mental state. Have you no basic understanding of human behaviour, decency or empathy?
Snitor 9 months ago
Sorry for mis family losses, but for the rest of the interview, couldn't care less.
KatoMiler 9 months ago
Yep, boy, I get it.
Chuck_T 9 months ago
The questions that weren't asked 10 years ago are now coming constantly. I think if you really want to unload the burden (if indeed it is a burden, for some it may not be) then you need to tell everything. Not for me, not for anyone else who comes here, not for cycling fans all around the world, but for your own wellbeing. Look at what the likes of Riis and Armstrong are going through. I'm not saying they don't deserve it, but they must ask themselves is/was it worth it ? And half truths won't make it go away, you need to put it all out there. From where I'm sitting the only one who looks anywhere near at peace with himself is Hamilton, he told everything and I truly believe it was a weight lifted off his shoulders. I'm not saying he's better or worse than the others, I'm just saying that telling it all was good for him, he's no longer weighed down by the constant questions and innuendo. Riis, Armstrong and others like them should seriously consider telling all. Not for the good of cycling, but for their own health and wellbeing.
KatoMiler 9 months ago
Great final statement.
Alpe73 9 months ago
Why not lead by example, Chuck? Perhaps if you step up to the mic, representing 'those who come here", with your Victim Impact Statement, perhaps Lance, Bjarne and da boyz will line up at the confessional seeking repentance.
TShame 9 months ago
His depression is obviously from his cycling, as his career hangs in the balance. I would say more, but apparently moderators do not allow freedom of speech.
boombastic 9 months ago
you can enjoy freedom of speech as much as you like if you will create your own website. the cn however have a right to publish what they please, therefore they have a right to delete your comment. it's called ownership rights.
marquisfbs 9 months ago
Still, there does appear to be heavy censorship going down on CN, particularly if you question the whole Fan scene of CN readers, and the insular judgements of some of their comments.
Brian Handy 9 months ago
Couldn't be too bad, Oleg Tinkoff just funded his retirement pension. Three more years in the sport then time to retire in luxury back in Denmark… Maybe do a bit of riding… maybe a tell all book… life is good Bjarne!
geezer 9 months ago
a friend told me once, "You can be the richest person in the world, but if you haven't got your health you've got nothing." Well depression is the same, instead of dwelling on the positives in your life, the negatives keep coming forward. That is where he is at.
Gary333 9 months ago
From his own doing. And I believe him "coming clean" in 2007 is only a partial truth. He hasn't fully spilled the beans.
db2720 9 months ago
Aww.... poor Bjarne.
KatoMiler 9 months ago
Yep, poor Bjarne. Poor millionaire Bjarne.
JackSpoke 9 months ago
Hang in there Bjarne. Ex-doper or not, I still think you are a good guy and good for cycling.
Alpe73 9 months ago
My sentiments, exactly. Watched the documentary and it tells a story even to those who don't speak Danish. Also read a translated ( into English) synopsis/review. I'm sure a full English transcript will be available shortly.
Anonymous 9 months ago
Riis should just blame lance armstrong for his doping in cycling... everyone else does.
Lucifa 9 months ago
At least he didn't try and top himself like that other twit before Xmas.
RobbieCanuck 9 months ago
Grow up. This is about as mindless a comment as one could expect. There is a lot of light between your ears. Have you no respect for other people?