Ian Thorpe: Swimming star in rehab

Story highlights

  • Ian Thorpe admitted to rehab with depression
  • Was found by police disorientated in Sydney, early Monday morning
  • Speculation of depression and alcoholism were rejected last week
  • Autobiography mentioned thoughts of suicide, heavy drinking and depression

Ian Thorpe, Australia's greatest Olympian, has been admitted to rehabilitation in an effort to battle his depression.

Police in Sydney were called in the early hours of Monday morning after the 31-year-old former swimming champion was spotted behaving strangely near a vehicle and was judged to be disorientated.

The five-time gold medalist was taken to Bankstown hospital before being transferred to rehab just days after his management company rejected speculation that Thorpe had undergone treatment for depression and alcoholism.

"Following a fall at home on Tuesday, Ian was admitted to hospital after sustaining an injury to his shoulder," Thorpe's management company told CNN.

"He underwent surgery on Wednesday and was discharged the following day. On Sunday, Ian was taken to Bankstown Hospital and then onto a rehabilitation clinic after being found disorientated and trying to get in to what he thought was a friend's car.

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Ian Thorpe's comeback in the pool
Ian Thorpe's comeback in the pool


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"Ian had been on a series of painkillers and antidepressants following surgery on his shoulder. No alcohol was involved and Ian was admitted to rehabilitation for his ongoing struggle with depression.

"The family have requested the public and media respect their privacy at this time."

Thorpe, one of the most recognizable faces in Australian sport, revealed he has struggled to adjust to life after his failure to make the team for the 2012 London Olympics.

While friends and family have rallied around Thorpe, the star has failed to reach an even keel.

In his autobiography, which was published last year, Thorpe admitted that he had spent "a lot of my life battling what I can only describe as crippling depression.

"I suppose it was inevitable that I'd turn to other, artificial ways of managing my feelings, and I found alcohol."

Thorpe's admission comes just days after his management company was forced to deny speculation that the former Olympic champion had booked into rehab.

But this latest episode signals a turn for the worse for one of swimming's most iconic figures.

Thorpe retired from competitive action in 2006 only to launch a failed comeback six years later where he attempted to qualify for the London Games.

He had harbored hopes of being selected for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in July but a shoulder injury scuppered his chances and led to him retiring from competitive swimming for a final time.

Thorpe had spent the past 18 months living in Switzerland but returned to Sydney to spend Christmas with his parents.

His manager, James Erskine, confirmed Thorpe insisted his client had no alcohol in his system when he was met by police but was under influence of antidepressants and medication for his shoulder.

In his book, Thorpe revealed how he was often driven to alcohol to find some kind of release.

"I used alcohol as a means to rid my head of terrible thoughts, as a way of managing my moods," he wrote.

"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.

"There were numerous occasions as I trained to defend my Olympic titles in Athens that I abused myself this way -- always alone and in a mist of disgrace. It's like a weight is pressing down on you. There are days when you just can't get out of bed. You cannot face the world.

"You tell yourself simple things like: 'Just get to the kitchen and get a glass of water.' But not being able to do something so basic is frightening.''

The swimmer, nicknamed 'Thorpedo', came to prominence at the 2000 Sydney Olympics by winning three gold and two silver medals.

His abnormally large hands and feet, which explained his incredible speed, brought him great success and won him thousands of fans.

He followed up his success four years later in Athens by clinching two more gold medals.

Thorpe also won 11 World Championships gold medals, including six in 2001.