Former Australian national champion and world champion Jack Bobridge appeared before Perth Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, facing accusations that he sold hundreds of ecstasy tablets.
The 28-year-old was arrested on Wednesday after a police raid at his home in Yokine. According to neighbours, at least six marked and unmarked police cars were in attendance, as well as sniffer dogs. These were used to search his house and backyard for more than an hour.
Bobridge was arrested and detained overnight, then appeared before the court on Thursday facing six charges of selling significant quantities of the drug in several suburbs over a period of several months. The court was told that he had been monitored in a long-running undercover operation.
According to the police, Bobridge sold large quantities of MDMA between March and July of this year in Perth, Stirling, Balcatta and Leederville. One batch allegedly contained 146 pills. Also accused of being involved in the scheme is Alex McGregor, who has already appeared and who will face more charges next month in connection to the sale of banned drugs.
Police opposed bail for Bobridge, saying that because the allegations were so serious, Bobridge was certain to go to jail if convicted. However Bobridge was released, as Perth Now reported, but had to hand over a $10,000 surety plus his passport, undertake not to leave the State and also agree not to contact McGregor.
Bobridge was considered one of Australia’s most talented riders, but retired from the sport last year. He had been battling rheumatoid arthritis and told CyclingTips that this was a major factor in his decision.
“Over the past six years or something I haven’t really expressed the arthritis to too many people but it was pretty hard on the body,” Bobridge told CyclingTips. “The Olympic campaign, jumping from track to road and back, forward, back, forward this year … I was carrying injuries a lot of the season as well … little niggly ones, nothing serious, but it was part of the big reason I come back [to Australia].
“The body was just tired and worn out and 90% of that was probably the arthritis.”
However the legal charges this week add a new complexity to his life story. Prior to his retirement he had spent periods of time drinking, and had run-ins with the police as a result.
Early on Bobridge was regarded as a glittering talent. In 2006 and 2007 he won gold medals in the team pursuit at the world junior track championships. Gold medals in the individual and team pursuit followed in the Oceania championships and the Commonwealth Games.
He also showed flair on the road, becoming UCI under 23 world time trial champion in 2009 and also taking other successes.
These results earned him a pro contract with the Garmin-Transitions team, where he raced in 2010 and 2011. He won the Australian national championship in the second of those seasons, moved to GreenEdge in 2012 and was a silver medallist in the team pursuit at the 2012 Olympic Games.
Bobridge competed with Belkin Pro Cycling in 2013 and 2014, but his progress slowed and his results became more sporadic. He stepped back from the WorldTour in 2015, racing with the Australian Budget Forklifts squad, but secured a contract with Trek-Segafredo for 2016.
In January of that year he dominated the Australian national road race championships with a long-distance solo break. He made an unsuccessful attempt at the world hour record, finished fourth in the Herald Sun Tour and then took another silver medal in the team pursuit at the Rio Olympics.
His career then petered out after that and he walked away from the sport.