Tyler Hamilton has said that he is sorry that the revelations in his book sent Bjarne Riis into a depression, but he still stands by what he says.
“It makes me extremely sad to hear. But the truth is hard sometimes, and I had to tell,” Hamilton told Danish broadcaster DR. “It's sad that I had to say this about really good people like Bjarne Riis, but as soon as I started to tell the truth, it felt so good.”
In a documentary shown by the TV channel last night (Thursday), Riis revealed that the doping scandals that have plagued him, amongst other factors, sent him into a depression last year. In Hamilton’s book ‘The Secret Race’, the American claimed that his former team boss had helped him dope and was aware of doping within the CSC team.
In 2007 Riis admitted to using EPO to take his 1996 Tour de France victory, but has always denied the allegations made in the book and in Michael Rasmussen’s recent autobiography. He continued to refuse to shed any light on them during the documentary saying, “I don't think it's relevant. You may think so, but I don't. Even if I could say a lot about other people, why would I do that?”
Hamilton himself is no stranger to doping scandals. For a long time he denied doping, despite testing positive due to a blood transfusion, in 2004. He was banned again in 2009. It wasn’t until 2011 that admitted to his doping past and then went into further detail in his book.
The American, who rode for Riis’ Team CSC from 2002 to 2003, says that he can empathise with what the Dane is going through. “If all this had not happened to me, I probably would continue along the same path as Bjarne. I was the one trapped in my own prison,” he explained. “He's got to be honest with himself and others. He needs to talk. Because secrets will eat you up inside.”
Despite their collective past, Hamilton spoke well of his former team boss. “I love the man, he is a great person. Good people get caught up in crazy things. He didn’t invent doping. He was one of those caught up in it.
“We all know that Bjarne is a special person. I have never met a person like him, and will probably never meet someone like him again.”