Pavle Jovanovic, who represented the United States at the 2006 Olympics, is believed to be the first athlete in a board sport to be affected by a disease caused by repeated head trauma.
A former Olympic bobsleigh who committed suicide last year had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, the researchers concluded. Same degenerative brain disease that was found in former players of football and others athletes who have participated in violent contact sports.
Pavle Jovanovic hanged himself in his family 's l shop in central New Jersey in May 2020. He was 43 years old. He is believed to be the first bobsleigh and the first athlete in an Olympic sliding sport to be found with C .T.E. Debilitating brain disease results from multiple head injuries and can cause severe brain degeneration, often well before the stage of life, when the population as a whole suffers from brain disorders, such as dementia and Parkinson's disease.
The discovery of CTE in Jovanovic's brain is likely to send shockwaves through a sport that is just beginning to understand the dangers of it. that participants simply refer to " sled head ". Athletes have long used the term to describe the exhausted fog, dizziness and headaches that even a routine run can cause.
Jovanovic was the third North American elite bobsledder to commit suicide since 2013. In recent years, an increasing number of current and retired athletes in the board sports, in particular bobsleigh and skeleton , reported chronically suffering from many of the same symptoms that plague football players and other contact sportsmen. They face constant headaches, increased sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises, forgetfulness and psychological issues.
Jovanovic ran and played high school football and saw limited action for two seasons in college football, but he stopped attending Rutgers University full time in 1997 to practice bobsledding. He has spent about a decade competing in international bobsleigh competitions, a sport that requires athletes to hurtle down an ice track at 80 miles an hour and endure an experience that beats the brains of researchers. compared to shaken baby syndrome.
Catastrophic crashes causing athletes to crash into ice under overturned sleds are not uncommon. But a combination of speed and vibration, especially in the tight corners of a sliding track, can damage the brain even when crashes don't happen, experts say.
The CTE The discovery was made in March by Dr. Ann McKee, a neuropathologisleader and director of C.T.E. Center, which discovered the disease in the donated brains of dozens of deceased football players. For now, C.T.E. can only be diagnosed posthumously. In Jovanovic's case, she was only able to study a small sample of the brain, but that was enough to indicate "moderate illness," McKee wrote.
the moderate illness is similar to that of former NFL Junior Seau players, Dave Duerson and Aaron Hernandez, who all died by suicide.
brother was and who he became, and it was someone else, "said Nick Jovanovic, Pavle's older brother .
Jovanovic pushed sleds that excelled in World Cup competitions and represented the United States at the 2006 Olympics. At the time of his death , he had undergone several years of treatment for ps disordersychiatric, addiction, and symptoms including uncontrollable twitching and Parkinson's-like tremors.
Degenerative brain problems and their debilitating effects have become an increasingly open secret in the tight-knit world of bobsleigh and its sister sport, skeleton, in which competitors slide head first on small l and carbon fiber sleds.
Aside from Jovanovic, Adam Wood, whose wife recorded his distressed calls as his mental health deteriorated, so there would be a record, died by suicide in 2013 at the age of 32 The following year, Travis Bell, who competed for the United States in the late 1990s, committed suicide at the age of 42. Image Steven Holcomb, 2010 gold medalist, died of an overdose in 2017. Credit ... Cj Gunther / European Press Photo Agency
In addition, Steven Holcomb , who in 2010 piloted the sled known as the Night Train for America's first gold medal in bobsleigh in 62 years, died alone of an overdose in 2017 after years of battling depression. He was 37. Another Olympic medalist, Bill Schuffenhauer, attempted suicide in 2016 by cutting off his wrist, but was saved by his girlfriend. Image Pavle Jovanovic was part of the US four-man bobsleigh team at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Turin, Italy. Credit ... Images figcaption>
Holcomb, the most famous American bobsleigh, arranged to donate his brain to a scientific study and told close friends that he may be suffering from CTE But the researchers couldn't find the disease when they dissected his brain. They also did not find C.T.E. in the brain of Adam Wood.
The absence of a CTE This finding does not mean that an athlete in a sport with high speed collisions does not suffer from symptoms caused by repeated traumatic impacts to the brain and concussions, Dr. Robert Stern, neuropsychologist and director of clinical research for CTE Center said in an interview last year.
In board sports, researchers say that much of the damage can occur even during routine outing. Image Nick Jovanovic, in 2020, with his brother's Olympic gear in their hometown of Toms River, NJ "It doesn't give me closure, but it does allow me to understand who my brother was and who he has become, and that was a bit different, "he said of CTE research. Credit ... September Dawn Bottoms / New York Times
Nick Jovanovic said Pavle started shaking and shaking uncontrollably in the middle of the night as early as 2013. He had recently stopped competing in bobsleigh. After injuries that kept him from making the US team at the 2010 Olympics, Jovanovic competed in 2011 and 2012 for the Serbie, the country from which his father immigrated when he was young.
The next seven years were painful for Jovanovic and everyone around him. Although he graduated from Rutgers with an engineering degree in 2010, Jovanovic slowly lost the ability to do simple math calculations in his head.
He drank a lot and got moody. He got into a fight at local bars and restaurants near his home in Toms River, New Jersey, and even attacked his brother in their steelmaking office. The local police have accumulated a long record of complaints about him.
He had a series of stays in a mental health center, where he was treated for alcoholism, depression and bipolar disorder. At the time of his death, he was taking preion drugs to treat his mental health issues as well as tremors and tremors.common symptoms of people with Parkinson's disease or who take antipsychotics.
"He wanted to win " said Nick Jovanovic, "and he lost everything.