CA chief says Dajka was on his way back
Stunned cycling officials believed former world champion Jobie Dajka, found dead in his Adelaide house, was winning his battle with depression and was close to a comeback.
The body of Dajka, a former world and Commonwealth Games champion who had long battled alcoholism and depression, was discovered late on Tuesday.
South Australian police have not released a cause of Dajka’s death but are not treating it as suspicious.
Cycling officials say the gifted yet troubled 27-year-old never got over being axed from Australia’s 2004 Olympic team for lying to a doping inquiry.
“We’ve been pretty much aware for a number of years that Jobie went through some pretty dark times,” Cycling Australia chief executive Graham Fredericks told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday.
“I guess they stemmed from the fact that he was removed from the Australian Olympic team that went to Athens in 2004.
“It’s apparent now, it’s obvious that he’s never really recovered from that.
“Jobie fought many a battle on the bike and won many of them, but that was one battle he never really overcame.”
Fredericks was shocked at the death of Dajka, who in 2006 was convicted and placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond by an Adelaide court for assaulting Australia’s head track cycling coach Martin Barras.
The court also gave Dajka a suspended three-year jail sentence after he pleaded guilty to three counts of driving while disqualified and nine other charges including theft and breaching a bail agreement.
The June 2005 assault on Barras led Cycling Australia to impose a three-year ban on Dajka, which was lifted after 18 months.
“Irrespective of what he did in his final years, they were very troubled, no one ever wants to see this happen to any individual,” Fredericks said.
“The cycling community are pretty shocked, and very saddened – no one wants to see a young man end his life this way.
“Everyone had hoped that he was back on his feet as an individual.”
Dajka was “fairly buoyant” and appeared on the verge of a comeback late last year, Fredericks said.
“I was saying `gee, I think this guy might be on the way back’,” he said.
“He was talking in terms of coming back to the sport and asking what hoops he had to jump through.”
Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates defended the treatment of Dajka, saying there were adequate psychological services available through the nation’s sporting bodies.
“There is a network through the AIS, and all the Australian institutes of sports, that look after athletes on our Olympic team or on scholarship, who have disappointments,” Coates told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“I would be very certain that would have kicked in through the South Australian Institute of Sport, the AIS and cycling in respect to Jobie.
“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.”
Fredericks said Dajka, the 2002 world Kieren champion and 2002 Commonwealth Games teams sprint gold medallist, was provided psychological care and counselling following his omission from the Athens Olympics.© AAP 2013
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