Thu, Apr 09, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Ex-champ Dajka’s death saddens cycling fraternity

AP , ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA

Jobie Dajka poses on the podium after finishing the Keirin event at the Track Cycling World Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia, in 2001. Dajka was found dead on Tuesday in Adelaide, Australia.

PHOTO: AFP

Cycling Australia chief executive Graham Fredericks wants former world champion Jobie Dajka to be remembered in the wake of his sudden death for his achievements in the sport.

“The Australian cycling community is saddened today to learn of the death of former national representative, Jobie Dajka,” Fredericks said yesterday. “While his final period with the sport was often troubled, we hope that Jobie will be remembered for his remarkable achievements as one of Australia’s best sprint cyclists of the past decade.”

“His record as a Junior World Champion, World Champion and Commonwealth Games Champion was indeed, outstanding. Our thoughts and wishes are with his family and friends at this sad time,” he said.

South Australia state police confirmed that the body of a 27-year-old man was found on Tuesday inside a house Dajka had been renting.

Police did not release a cause of death but said it was not being treated as suspicious.

Dajka, who in 2002 won the keirin title at the world championships and team sprint gold medal at the Commonwealth Games, had admitted having problems with depression and alcohol after being excluded from Australia’s team for the 2004 Athens Olympics for lying to a doping inquiry.

Fredericks said Cycling Australia had provided psychological care and counseling to Dajka following his exclusion from Olympic exclusion.

“We’ve been aware for a number of years that Jobie went through some pretty dark times,” Fredericks told reporters in Sydney. “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,” he said.

Fredericks said he’d spoken to Dajka late last year and thought the cyclist was on the verge of a comeback.

Dajka’s career was derailed after he was accused of lying to a government-backed inquiry into allegations of drug use at the Australian Institute of Sport’s cycling center in Adelaide.

He was among five former world champions under investigation after track squad member Mark French received a lifetime ban from the Olympics for doping offenses. Dajka was not found guilty of any doping offense.

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