More than half of athlete brains analyzed by brain bank show signs of CTE

The research letter indicates that suicide could be a risk factor for CTE, with six of the 12 donors found to have the condition committing suicide.

Australian rules football had the highest ratio of CTE, with six out of eight promises showing CTE lesions.

The late Shane Tuck, who passed away at the age of 38.Credit:Sebastien Costanzo

The ASBB previously revealed AFL big names such as Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer, Danny Frawley and Shane Tuck were found in various stages of CTE during the autopsy.

Of the nine engagements associated with rugby league or rugby union as a primary sporting activity, five were found to have brain tissue associated with CTE, including Bulldogs legend Steve Folkes.

Tuck’s sister Renee said the health of her brother, who also practiced boxing after his AFL career, had declined significantly in his later years. He took his own life aged 38 and the ASBB said he had the worst case of CTE he had ever seen.


“Once we got Shane’s diagnosis…without it, our healing and our trauma would take a lot longer,” Renee said. “We can understand now why Shane left because he was so broken. He was almost dead in the eye at the end – and it came down to a brain that didn’t work.

“He wasn’t depressed or mentally weak, he loved his life, enjoyed it and was going 100 per cent all the time – and it didn’t make sense that he had gone downhill so quickly and so dramatically. That’s pretty awful to look at someone like that.

“Ironically, he was never taken off the ground after suffering a concussion. He loved what he was doing and didn’t really feel any pain. I have no doubt that Shane left the halls after a game concussed, but not knocked out. And it has taken its toll over the years. I know blows to the head do that to the brains of athletes.

“But I’m not interested in telling people how to live their life and not play football, but be aware of that.”

The ASBB, set up by the Department of Neuropathology at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in partnership with the University of Sydney, has now received more than 600 pledges from amateur and professional athletes to have their brains examined during an autopsy.

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