For the first time in more than three years, Australian legend Casey Stoner made an appearance at a MotoGP event.
It comes after the two-time MotoGP World Champion revealed in 2019 that he had been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS), which impacts on sleep, causes profound fatigue and difficulties with memory.
Stoner, who retired from MotoGP in 2012, was in attendance at the Algarve Grand Prix where he answered questions about his time away from the sport.
“I’m basically never more than 60 per cent of my usual self,” Stoner said during a press conference.
“I’ve had to learn to walk everywhere which I hate. I always used to jog just about everywhere but now I have to walk.”
Stoner talks about personal struggle
The 36-year-old was recently a test and development rider for Ducati from 2016 to 2018.
Stoner hasn’t been seen at a MotoGP event for several years due to his health issues.
“It’s been far too long. This was my whole world for a lot of years. We knew everyone,” Stoner added.
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“A lot of people in this paddock are family and friends. We’ve missed everyone, to be honest.
“Since I finished my testing role with Ducati, I got my shoulder reconstruction which was fantastic. I’ve struggled massively with my health. I got to the point where I couldn’t get off the couch basically for five months. From bed to the couch was my exercise for the day. I couldn’t explain anything, we couldn’t understand anything.
“Mentally I was struggling. Physically, massively. For the last three or four years now I’ve just been trying to manage the situation.
“Trying to learn how to conserve energy through the day. Learning what hurts me long term versus what not necessarily makes me better, but reduces the effect of my issue.”
The Championship winner with Ducati (2007) and Honda (2011) said he’s “less optimistic” after things went backwards earlier this year.
“The end of last year I started feeling a little better in December, January. I thought maybe I’m not coming out of it but I can manage this now. I started being able to do little bits during the day and not be too tired for the next week or two, which was really exciting,” he added.
“But then I hit March, April and went backwards again. I’m a little less optimistic with things at the moment.
“I just kind of go day by day how I feel. Sometimes I’m extremely exhausted and just cannot explain it, and then other days I’m a little better.”