Olympic Bobsledder Who Killed Himself Likely had C.T.E.

Olympic Bobsledder Who Killed Himself Likely had C.T.E.

The family of a bobsledder who tragically lost their life at the Olympics has filed a lawsuit against the organisation.

The family of bobsledder Pavle Jovanovic, who committed suicide days after the Beijing Olympics’ closing ceremony, has filed a lawsuit against the Olympics.

Olympic Bobsledder Who Killed Himself Likely had C.T.E.

Olympic Bobsledder Who Killed Himself Likely had C.T.E.

In a complaint filed on Wednesday, Pavle Jovanovic’s brother claims the Olympics did not do enough to warn and safeguard his brother against traumatic brain injuries. Jovanovic committed himself shortly after the Sochi Games.

The lawsuit claims that Jovanovic had brain problems from being jostled around in the bobsled for years, leading to depression and eventually his suicide in 2020, at the age of 43.

Soon after his death, an examination confirmed that Jovanovic had CTE, a degenerative brain disease typically found in high-impact sports like football players and boxers.

Jovanovic is the first person to ever be diagnosed with CTE who competed in a sliding sport.

According to the 139-page lawsuit, Jovanovic committed himself because the symptoms of CTE were too unbearable.

According to the allegation, “he was competing against an opponent who does not lose.”

According to the complaint, after suffering a traumatic brain injury, Jovanovic turned to alcohol and by 2013 was showing symptoms similar to those of Parkinson’s disease.

The lawsuit accuses the Olympic Committee of covering up the seriousness of sled head injuries sustained by members of the U.S. bobsled team for decades.

The lawsuit contends that the Olympics was aware of the dangers posed by bobsledding to Jovanovic (called “Pauly” in the complaint) and other participants but did nothing to prevent them or warn them.

“Defendants failed to warn and protect Pauly and the other athletes who have taken their own lives as a result of injuries sustained from repeated head trauma, despite knowledge of the decades of medical science detailing the development of traumatic brain injuries in athletes who are exposed to brain trauma and the use of’sled head’ within the sport of bobsledding.

The defendants “failed to inform him of the dangers of repetitive head injuries but instead actively hid those risks,” the lawsuit states.

It is alleged in the complaint that the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC), which is also named, failed to ensure Jovanovic’s safety.

According to the complaint, the International Olympic Committee put commercial concerns ahead of athlete welfare by airing highlight reels of each ride and placing an emphasis on speed.

Acute and chronic risks linked with head hits are downplayed in these efforts to enhance viewing and exploit the perils of the sport, according to the lawsuit. There is a pervasive attitude of looking out for one’s own financial interests at the expense of players’ health and safety.

While tragic, Jovanovic’s suicide is not unique among Olympic bobsledders.

Two more people have taken their own lives and five others have attempted suicide since 2013. Two American bobsledders, including 2010 Olympic gold medalist Steven Holcomb, have died of drug overdoses.

After testing positive for a banned drug in the 2002 Olympics, Jovanovic was barred from competing for two years. Jovanovic insisted he had no idea the supplement he was taking included the illegal substance.

When he died, the US Olympic Planning Committee (USOPC) was emphasising the importance of athletes’ emotional well-being, as reported in a Team USA article.

According to the article, “The USOPC is focused on creating awareness surrounding mental health resources and needs within the Team USA community and promoting a culture that encourages proactively seeking and delivering mental health care for everyone.”

A native of New Jersey, Jovanovic spent almost a decade as one of the world’s best “brakemen” on the bobsled team. In bobsled, he has dominated the World Cup, winning 19 medals.


Other organisations named as defendants in the complaint include the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation and the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation.

Nicholas Jovanovic, Pavle’s brother, is being represented by Patrick D’Arcy, of the law firm D’Arcy Johnson Day. Emails seeking comment from him went unanswered for some time.


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