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  • Jani Brajkovic

Emphaty

My thoughts on why so many people are suffering, what to do about it, and hypocrisy of certain organisations.


To start, I've rewritten this article 3 times. There are so many feelings, emotions, thoughts emerging right now, that I was hard to put it into words.


From sadness after reading of passing young Kelly Katlin, to anger once more information emerged.

As a parent, I can only imagine how her parent feel right now. It is something, they'll have to live with, for the rest of their lives. Every parent would do everything to protect their child, in good or bad, they would go to extremes.


Could it be prevented? Could it be dealt with differently? I believe so.....And once I tell you how, you'll understand, why I feel so angry right now. Please bear with me, I might jump from one topic to another, but in the end it'll make sense, hopefully.


Last month, I was talking to Spanish journalist, about this exact problem, TBI in cycling, and how it's been brushed off, as not a big deal.

We talked about what happens when one gets concussion, how often it's diagnosed, how TBI is being treated, and what can happen to a person after concussion.


I've had my own fair share of concussions in 12 years of Pro cycling. Most recent at the end of 2017. Because I knew more than most of the cycling world, I traveled with all kinds of tools that would come to rescue in case anything happens.

I traveled with red light therapy lamp, creatine, ketone ester, magnetic therapy device etc...

Every single person on the team made fun of me, thought I was crazy, obsessed with health. (Ironically some of them didn't see a problem in popping 4 zolpidems (stilnox) plus 1 brotizolam (lendormin) after they weren't able to sleep on the plane-followed by 4 double espressos in the morning).


You see, when you know what you're dealing with, and educate yourself how to "fix" it, things don't seem so scary anymore. But the real problem is, denying it's a problem, in the first place. And by no means I believe I can diagnose and treat TBI by myself.


My anger comes from UCI's ignorance. When I tested positive in 2018, I talked to them about all the health problems in cycling, mental primarily, including TBI, and how it cause serious depression, suicidal thoughts. Once TBI happens, brain might not work optimally anymore, hormone balance, production is off. There's a lot of data with PTSD people, being treated with hormone replacement therapies, that are improving tremendously.

But when it comes to hormones like testosterone, human growth hormone, that's a clear NO NO for sport, it's banned. So better ignore the problem, and focus on anti-doping, yeah?

Meanwhile young riders are dying.

The most hart breaking thing was UCI promising me, their medical team would give me a call. It never happened to this day.

But they were very quick to send me a bill for antidoping administration costs.

Other methods include supplementing creatine, which can improve recovery from TBI tremendously, red light therapy, diet low in carbs- because when injured, brain has a problem dealing with carbs, ketones etc...

Just to clarify, I'm not a low-carb diet zealot, even though I know few nutritionalists in WT, that are.


The second thing I'd like to talk about is, how social media, and media in general are contributing to this problem.


Media (journalists) can make you a hero from zero. Opposite is also true.

To be clear not all are bad, seeking attention, clicks and blowing things out of proportion.

We need to be aware that there is no such thing as objective journalism. Every human is biased, in one way or another.

But what everyone can do, is to be fair. The problem in being fair, is that the story itself becomes, meh, kinda boring and less attractive.


When the news about Preidler and Denifl came out, most of the media, crucified them, presented them as Pablo Escobars of cycling.

Yes they made a mistake, they'll be marked for he rest of their lives, and they'll have to live with it.

Have you ever thought how Mr. Preidler feels right now? How about his family, parents, friends?


I'll tell you how he feels: Every morning, as soon as he opens his eyes, he thinks "why am I here, what's the point of living right now, I wish I wouldn't exist"

He made a mistake, they made a mistake, and I did a mistake as well. But show me one person who is perfect, flawless, with top notch moral standards. It's not about forgetting, It's about showing some basic emphaty, compassion.

The very same journalists who are writing about depression so compassionately, were also pushing those guys closer to the edge. The edge from where, there is no return once you step over it. Keep that in mind please.


In the past months I've been in contact with Lance, Johan, Floyd, and others. And I'm happy about it. People judge others based on information they get from the media. This is not always the whole story. I'm sure most of us were born as good, well meaning people. There's always a reason for the actions one makes, many times we don't go deep enough to understand them, or we simply don't care.

Lance, Johan, Pedro are banned for life. The reason you know is very different to what I know. I can tell you how I see them.

Pedro was the only doctor I've encountered, that really cared about riders. He was the guy who introduced me to mindfulness, meditation back in 2011. He was the one, who cut my training short, in order to prevent me burning out. He also stayed with me all the time when I had that nasty crash in 2011 TDF. Compared to 2014 Giro, where I was left alone in a hospital for 8 hours in a dark room, doctors making fun of me and my broken elbow. The only contact I had with team doctor was when hospital called to pick me up. They asked an ambulance to bring me to the hotel.


Pedro also did some things wrong, but the way it was shown in the media is just wrong.

This is the way I see him, I can't say what he did to others, when I was around him, he was a good person.


Floyd, honestly I haven't talked to yet, but hopefully in coming days we can have a chat. It's been pretty hectic here in the last few days...


Lastly, going back to home media & others:


When I announced my ban, they all jumped on it, breaking news everywhere.

There was this lady, writing an article, without reading my statement. After, she called, wanting to talk. They took the article down because they realised they jumped the gun, only to put pretty much the same thing up after talking to me.

Ironically, despite their high moral writings, they also allow ads for breast enlargement creams and fat loss products that guarantee 27kg weight loss in 30days, no diet change required.


National TV journalist acted like I killed his family, full of despise and hate.


Then, there was this guy working for another TV channel, who called, claiming he educated himself on methylhexaneamine (in 12hs). His first question was about what do I have to say about Slovenian super star skier, commenting that she hates cycling because all cyclists take drugs. Obviously now we know, not only cycling has this problem.


Lastly there were people who genuinely seemed to support me in trying to get my ban reduced....Until I accepted 10months... I've never heard back from them afterwards.


One exception was president of my former team.

This lady is simply "badass"

Not because she supported me, but because she knows what it takes to succeed, and she also know how to get back on feet once you fall. She fought her way up the latter of one of the best Slovenia camper vans brand, and being a woman is not always easy.

She didn't play a victim card, she fought.

And I will always be grateful for her support, no matter what happens in the future. She was also the main reason I raced on this team last year.

To clarify, I had couple more offers for decent salary (even WT level salary), but I felt I needed to do the right thing, give back a part of what they provided me with, back in my early years.


That's it for now, there are so many things on my mind right now, maybe for next time...


Love you all


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