Track Cycling

Olympic cycling champion Jack Bobridge tells court ‘a fantastic lifestyle’ led to drug abuse – ABC News


By Joanna Menagh

A former champion Australian cyclist has told a Perth court he started using recreational drugs while living “a fantastic lifestyle”, partying and training when he was a professional athlete in Europe.

Key points:

  • Jack Bobridge is defending four charges of supplying ecstasy to a former friend
  • He led a “partying” lifestyle during his cycling career, while based in Europe
  • He said ecstasy later became a “cheap way” to escape his marriage breakdown

Two-time Olympic silver medallist Jack Bobridge, 29, was giving evidence as part of his defence against four charges of supplying ecstasy tablets to a former friend in Perth, between March and August 2017 — the year after he retired from cycling.

The District Court has been told the friend, Alex McGregor, who is also a former professional cyclist, then on-sold the drugs to an undercover officer, who was part of a police operation targeting nightclubs and bars across Perth.

The quantities varied from 10 tablets to 99.

Mr Bobridge denies the allegations against him and told the court the partying lifestyle he was leading as a professional cyclist in Europe around 2010 led to him doing “some stuff” he now regretted.

Drug use escalated after marriage breakdown

He testified that this included drinking heavily and using recreational drugs including cocaine and ecstasy.

Mr Bobridge said while at the time he could not afford the drugs, “the people around him — fans — would supply him” with the substances, which also helped him deal with the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.

He became emotional as he described being diagnosed with the condition as a 19-year-old, saying it became progressively worse over his cycling career and ultimately led to him leaving the sport after the 2016 Rio De Janeiro Olympics.

Mr Bobridge said his marriage then broke down, so he started using more alcohol and drugs, with ecstasy being a cheap way to party and escape his problems.

Cycling code words allegedly used for drug deals

He denied it was him who supplied the drugs to McGregor, instead maintaining it was McGregor who provided him with the ecstasy, which he said he wanted for personal use.

Prosecutors allege that in messages on social media, Mr Bobridge used cycling terminologies as code to refer to the drugs, but he denied that in his evidence, saying the messages were about training he was conducting at a gym he ran in West Perth.

Mr Bobridge also testified about social media messages he sent in March 2017, asking McGregor not to tell anyone about one of the discussions they had.

Prosecutors allege that discussion was about drug dealing, but in his evidence Mr Bobridge maintained it was about his drug taking in Europe.

“I told him instances of using recreational drugs … cocaine,” he said.

“I mentioned other cyclists I used to do that with.

“I was paranoid about my past … I was starting a new business and I didn’t want my name trampled, so I sent a message so he wouldn’t talk about what I said.”

The messages were raised later during cross examination by prosecutor, Joel Grinceri, who quizzed Mr Bobridge about the other cyclists.

Mr Bobridge reluctantly identified two other Australians who he said had also taken cocaine.

Those names were suppressed by the trial judge.

Mr Bobridge later said he should not have brought the names of the other cyclists into the conversation, which was something he described as a mistake on his part.

Mr Bobridge was the 2006 junior world track champion in cycling, before going on to win silver medals in team pursuit events at two Olympic games and gold medals at a world championship and Commonwealth Games in both individual and team events.

The court has heard McGregor has already been sentenced over his dealings with the undercover officer.

The trial is expected to end later this week.

Topics: law-crime-and-justice, courts-and-trials, cycling, perth-6000, wa