Former Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis has claimed doping allegations levied against him put him into depression.
Tyler Hamilton and Michael Rasmussen recently alleged that Riis was fully aware of the doping practices of his riders, and even actively encouraged it. Riis admitted to doping while riding for the Telekom team, including his Yellow Jersey win in 1996, in 2007. Bjarne Riis claimed he struggled to deal with the increased media investigation besides an investigation by the Danish Anti-Doping Authority. In his tell-all book, Rasmussen pointed fingers at many riders like Nicki Sørensen, who he says buried drugs in his backyard, and Ryder Hesjedal to whom the ex-cyclist provided lessons on how to use EPO and cortisone in 2003. Rasmussen indicted Riis, who was his sports director at CSC in 2001 and 2002, and echoed the allegations made by Tyler Hamilton is his 2012 book "The Secret Race” and by Jörg Jaksche.
Riis became the first Tour de France winner to admit using performance enhancing drugs and his doping confession came after the top three finishers in the 1996 Tour have all been linked to doping and two of them have admitted to cheating. At a televised news conference, Riis said he had taken EPO and added he had made errors and he would like to apologize. Riis added that he no longer considered himself a worthy winner of the Tour, and indicated that he would be willing to give back the title. The UCI remarked at that time that even though time limits for sanctioning Riis have expired, it urges the former rider to return his yellow jersey, the symbol of his victory.
In a documentary to be shown on Danish channel DR1, Riis said there have been some tough months but he had prioritized himself. He added that it was a period when he could not make any decisions and it's uncomfortable because you cannot give anything and you cannot be there for anyone else, you cannot be there for yourself. Riis also remarked you are struck at some point and then it just becomes too much and added he had a lot of baggage from his childhood that has never been processed. He also said there have been many things that have come in recent years like when he came clean in 2007 - the process he went through.
Meanwhile, Tyler Hamilton insisted that he has no regrets over the doping allegations in his book 'The Secret Race' that sent his former team manager Bjarne Riis into depression. Hamilton remarked it makes him extremely sad to hear of Riis' depression but the truth is hard sometimes, and he had to tell. Hamilton, who tested positive for a blood transfusion in 2004 and was banned again in 2009, said he probably would continue along the same path as Bjarne if all this had not happened to him and added he was the one trapped in his own prison. Hamilton also said Riis got to be honest with himself and others and he needs to talk because secrets will eat you up inside.