2002 world keirin champion Jobie Dajka was convicted this week of assaulting the Australian cycling coach Martin Barras, but escaped any jail time after being charged with thirteen separate offenses, including assault, theft, and driving while disqualified. Dajka pled guilty and was given a three-month suspended jail term, fined over $2600 and was ordered to write a letter to Barras expressing his remorse.
Dajka's troubles began when he was implicated in a 2003 Australian doping scandal along with teammate Mark French, which led to his expulsion from the 2004 Athens Olympic team. The scandal led only to Dajka being found guilty of lying about injecting himself with legal vitamin supplements. Dajka was attempting to re-start his career in June of 2005 when Barras informed him he was being kicked off the AIS team for 'discipline problems'. An angered Dajka grabbed Barras by the throat and threw him to the ground.
After this incident, Dajka crashed his car three times while driving disqualified, leaving the scene and failing to report the incidents within 24 hours, stole cigarettes and violated terms of his bail by leaving South Australia. Dajka expressed frustration last year after the assault, calling the sport "corrupt and drug ridden" and threatening to quit altogether.
In 2005, Dajka was handed a three-year suspension for the assault by Cycling Australia, which Dajka blames on problems with alcohol. "I was going through a tough period in my life and every bad thing that I have done in the last two years has been due to being intoxicated, so taking care of that has basically been the turning point in my life," Dajka said outside court, according to The Australian.
Especially disturbing, in light of the recent death of elite cyclist Scott Peoples on Australian roads, is Dajka's driving offences. The Magistrate in the case, Jonathan Harry, had harsh words on this subject for Dajka. "It's hard to imagine greater defiance of a court order than driving disqualified three times and causing damage to other road users," he said. "Your overall conduct was disgraceful."
Dajka is hopeful that his problems are behind him, and that he can return to competition soon. He has appealed to Cycling Australia to have his license reinstated, but as yet, he is not clear to compete. "As long as I stay straight, put my head down and bum up, I will be back there ... I will be there for sure," he said.
He is vowing to race again as soon as the Tasmanian Christmas Carnival, and wants to clear things up with Barras so that he can compete in the Olympics in Beijing. "I'd rather have a bit of contact with him and get things over and done with now so we can plan on working together later on and avoid any trouble later on," he said, according to The Daily Telegraph. "Because at the end of the day, I will be there in 2008 at the Olympics and he'll be there too, he'll be the coach, so we have got to work together."
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