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Doping scandal left me depressed - Riis

ESPN staff
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Bjarne Riis is alleged to have encouraged his former riders' doping practices © Getty Images
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Former Tour de France winner Bjarne Riis has revealed he suffered from depression last year because of the doping allegations that continue to dog him.

In 2007, Tinkoff-Saxo manager Riis admitted to doping while riding for the Telekom team, including his Yellow Jersey win in 1996. However he has been rocked by recent comments made by Tyler Hamilton and Michael Rasmussen, who both alleged he was fully aware of the doping practices of his riders, and even actively encouraged it.

Also under investigation by the Danish Anti-Doping Authority, Riis has admitted he struggled to deal with the increased media attention.

"There have been some tough months. Very tough. But I have prioritized myself. It has been necessary," Riis said in a documentary which is due to be shown 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.

"At some point, you are struck, and then it just becomes too much. 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, named Riis - Forfra (Riis - Back to the Beginning), followed the Dane's attempt to resurrect his team from Spring 2012. However the release of Hamilton's book 'The Secret Race' at the end of 2012 left Riis reeling, after the American claimed his former boss knew of the team's doping.

"I cannot be sure that no one doped. It's not possible. They are guarantees I cannot provide," said Riis of Hamilton's allegations.

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