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Friday, October 12, 2012
Ian Thorpe: I've abused alcohol

Associated Press

SYDNEY -- Five-time Olympic swimming champion Ian Thorpe says he spent much of his life battling "crippling depression," occasionally considered suicide and often turned to heavy alcohol consumption to manage his moods.

In an extract of Thorpe's upcoming book, "This is Me: The Autobiography," published in Australian media Saturday, he said he had never spoken openly about his mental condition to friends or family.

"Not even my family is aware that I've spent a lot of my life battling what I can only describe as a crippling depression," he said.

Not even my family is aware that I've spent a lot of my life battling what I can only describe as a crippling depression.

-- Olympic swimmer Ian Thorpe

The 30-year-old Thorpe said while he did not consider himself an alcoholic, he relied on alcohol more and more as time went on.

"I used alcohol as a means to rid my head of terrible thoughts, as a way of managing my moods -- but I did it behind closed doors, where many depressed people choose to fight their demons before they realize they can't do it without help," he wrote.

"There were numerous occasions, particularly between 2002 and 2004 as I trained to defend my Olympic titles in Athens, that I abused myself this way -- always alone and in a mist of disgrace."

He said he was able to hide his drinking from sports psychologists and coaches, and at times considered suicide.

Thorpe retired in November 2006 after setting 13 individual world records and winning 11 world championship golds. He won the 200 and 400 free at the 2004 Athens Olympics in his last major international meet. He came out of retirement last year, but failed to qualify for the London Olympics.

Among other issues he discusses in the book is the persistent speculation about his sexuality.

"For the record," he wrote, "I am not gay and all my sexual experiences have been straight. I am attracted to women."