Slovenian rider Janez Brajkovic, once a workhorse for Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador, and winner of the 2010 Critérium du Dauphiné, recently opened up about his bulimia on his blog.
While racing for Slovenian Continental squad Adria Mobil last season, Brajkovic tested positive for banned substance methylhexaneamine at the Tour of Croatia and served a 10-month suspension until the beginning of June. The 35-year-old came ninth in his national road race championship on June 30.
The 2012 Tour de France top-ten finisher wrote in his blog that he developed a “poor relationship with food” as a pro, which meant that he could only keep down a meal replacement. It was that supplement, he explained to the UCI after his positive, that was tainted with methylhexaneamine.
Brajkovic writes about mostly-ignored eating disorders in the pro peloton: “Every team I’ve been on, from Continental to Pro Continental to WorldTour, I’ve had team-mates struggling. There were at least five or six with an eating disorder, many more with disordered eating behaviours. They were team captains, Grand Tour podium finishers, some were just awesome riders, team-mates, happy boys if seen from third person perspective.”
Without a team, Brajkovic is looking to continue in the sport. “As long as you get up after falling down, you’re not a failure,” he said. “This is why I want to race. Cycling is me, we’re inseparable. I’m aware there will be a time to stop, and I have a plan for the future, but this is not the time.”
Brajkovic hopes to shed light on eating disorders in the pro ranks and change attitudes about them: ““This shouldn’t just be about me. It should be about others as well. I didn’t write this piece to get attention or get others feeling sorry for me. I’m doing okay, most of the time, not great, but still good enough. I wrote this to let everybody know, from the hypocrites to the people working in cycling, we have a problem. Whether you like it or not, it shouldn’t be such a taboo topic. Someone who fractures a bone and carries on is seen as a hero, but somebody struggling for months, years, with mental issues, eating disorders, or addiction, is weak?”