Friday, November 16, 2012
Olympic champion diver says he turned to drugs
BRISBANE, Australia -- Australian 10-meter platform diver Matt Mitcham says he battled a methamphetamine addiction in 2011 that almost derailed his career and his life, but the 2008 Beijing gold medalist will be free to compete on future Australian Olympic teams.
In a book to be released on Monday, "Twists and Turns," Mitcham reveals his battle with low self-esteem, anxiety and depression, panic attacks and repeated self-harm as a teenager, which helped begin his dependence on crystal meth.
After winning the 10-meter gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, Mitcham failed to make the final 12 at the London Games this year.
Mitcham said that even after his Beijing win, he was still ranked No. 2 -- "I had still failed to achieve my childhood dream of becoming the best in the world at something," so he turned to drugs.
He said he knew the dangers of crystal meth, but "taking it was something I did . to take my mind off things that were upsetting me, to make me feel better about myself."
Mitcham said in the book, excerpts of which were published in Fairfax Media on Saturday, that he has recovered from the drug problems with the help of Narcotics Anonymous, hypnotherapy and his family and friends.
He said he is back in training for the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland.
The Australian Olympic Committee said it had no idea that Mitcham had any drug issues ahead of the London Games.
"We had no idea that he had a problem, he was his usual friendly, outgoing self in London," AOC spokesman Mike Tancred told The Associated Press on Saturday. "He went out and supported all his teammates, was happy and chatty, the usual Matty.
"We did know that before the Games he had a horrendous run with injuries, but we were not aware of any issues with drugs. But we think that it is sad that such a talented athlete has been caught up with such a hideous drug, and we are glad to hear that he is on top of it."
The AOC adopted a resolution Friday that will require all future Australian Olympians to declare any past use of performance-enhancing drugs. Tancred said Mitcham's use of recreational drugs, even serious ones such as crystal meth, would not be in that category.
"It would fall under recreational drug use," said Tancred. "This drug is a performance ruiner, not enhancer."