Former world champion cyclist Jobie Dajka of Australia was found dead in his Adelaide home after a long battle with alcoholism and depression, sporting officials confirmed Wednesday.
The body of the 2002 keirin world champion was discovered on Tuesday afternoon, with police saying a 27-year-old man’s corpse had been found in Adelaide and the death was not being treated as suspicious.
While police refused to officially identify Dajka, Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates confirmed his death, describing it as a “very, very sad occurrence”.
Dajka won a gold medal in the team sprint at the 2002 Commonwealth Games but was dropped from Australia’s 2004 Athens Olympic team for lying to a doping inquiry.
He was then barred from the sport for three years in 2005 for assaulting Australia’s national track coach Martin Barras, although the ban was lifted ahead of schedule in 2006 on condition he seek medical treatment.
Jobie dajka with his former coach, martin barras: jobie dajka with his former coach, martin barras AFP/Getty Images
Jobie Dajka with Australia’s national track coach Martin Barras
Dajka subsequently spoke publicly about his struggle with alcoholism and depression.
“At my lowest ebb I was consuming three bottles of scotch and six litres of wine a day before I found the courage to seek out proper psychological help,” he said last year.
Cycling Australia president Mike Victor said Dajka had never recovered from missing the Athens Games.
“Because of what happened back in 2004, where he was taken off the team, I don’t think he quite got over that,” Victor told ABC radio.
Coates defended the level of counselling and support available to elite athletes who experience tough times.
“There is something to pick them up,” he told reporters. “There is a network through the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport)… that looks after athletes on our Olympic team or on scholarship, who have disappointments in events, form, (who) may just be retiring, some people don’t handle retiring.
“It is a very, very sad occurrence obviously… I don’t think you can ever take unknown consequences such as that into account when you are determining how to deal with a situation.”
© AFP 2009