Jack Bobridge trial gets underway, says arthritis and marriage breakdown led to drug abuse
Former pro cyclist Jack Bobridge is currently on trial in the Perth District Court after being charged with supplying the drug MDMA (commonly known as ecstasy).
According to ABC News reports of the court proceedings, Bobridge has denied the allegations against him. He reportedly told the court that the partying lifestyle he led as a pro cyclist in Europe from 2010-2014 saw him drinking heavily and using recreational drugs such as cocaine and ecstasy.
Bobridge said this helped him deal with the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, and escalated as a ‘cheap way’ to escape after his marriage broke down upon returning to Perth.
Bobridge was arrested and charged in August 2017 as part of a police sting code-named ‘Operation Inception’ which targeted clubs and bars across Perth.
Prosecutors alleged he supplied ecstasy tablets to former semi-pro cyclist, Alex McGregor, who then sold them to an undercover police officer during a three-month investigation. Bobridge denies this and says it was McGregor who provided him with the ecstasy, which was for personal use.
Bobridge’s defence lawyer Sam Vandongen discredited McGregor by saying he “is a liar”.
“Mr Bobridge never supplied drugs to Mr McGregor, ever,” he said. “Mr McGregor has done a deal with the prosecution and as a result of that deal, Mr McGregor got 40% off his sentence, so he’s got a great deal at stake.”
McGregor told the court that he met Bobridge in 2014 through cycling, and said their relationship progressed from being acquaintances to selling drugs together.
Prosecutors claim that Bobridge and McGregor used “cycling code” on the encrypted Wickr social media messaging app to refer to their drug activity. Bobridge denied such claims, saying the messages were about a training gym that he ran in Perth.
Bobridge also testified about Facebook messages exchanged in March 2017 in which he asked McGregor to “keep last night all strictly between us”. Prosecutors allege the exchange was about drug dealing, but Bobridge testified it was about his time in Europe.
“I told him instances of using recreational drugs … cocaine,” Bobridge said. “I mentioned other cyclists I used to do that with.
“I was paranoid about my past. I was starting a new business and I didn’t want my name trampled, so I sent a message so he wouldn’t talk about what I said.”
Mr Bobridge reluctantly named the cyclists he did the cocaine with while competing in Europe, later calling it a mistake to bring them into the conversation. The names of the other riders were suppressed by the trial judge.
The trial is expected to run for eight days and should conclude this Thursday.
Bobridge was considered one of Australia’s most talented cyclists, but retired from the sport in 2016. He had been battling rheumatoid arthritis and told CyclingTips that this was a major factor in his decision to step away from the sport.