Sydney – Ian Thorpe's management company has denied media reports that the five-time Olympic swimming champion checked into a rehabilitation facility seeking treatment for depression and alcohol abuse.
Australian media reported on Friday that the 31-year-old Thorpe was admitted to hospital on Wednesday after a fall. It quoted a friend of Thorpe's as saying “he had an accident at home, slipped and hurt himself”.
News Corporation reports said Thorpe had undergone treatment, checked out and returned to his family home.
In a statement Friday, a representative of Thorpe's management company SEL said: “Ian is not in rehab. Ian was in hospital for an operation on his shoulder and is pleased to let his friends and fans know that he is now out of hospital and on the mend.”
Thorpe had previously admitted struggles with depression and alcohol and media reports had quoted other former Australian swim greats Libby Trickett and Kieran Perkins attesting to the difficulties he faced adjusting to life after the end of his career.
Four-time gold medalist Trickett also battled depression when she retired from swimming in 2009 and again when a wrist injury conclusively ended her career last year.
“Hopefully this a positive first step that he had to take on his journey,” Trickett said. “From being one of the world's best athletes to life away from the pool – it is a difficult transition to make.
“I had to do it twice to get it right.”
Two-time Olympic champion Perkins called for more support to be offered to retiring athletes.
“I was not surprised at all (about the Thorpe report),” he told Fairfax Media.
“There needs to be some cultural change to better support people through this and recognize that the fundamental change that someone goes through in their life when they retire from elite competitive sport is significant and is very difficult for all of us to contend with.”
Thorpe said in his autobiography published last year that he had fought depression through much of his life.
“Not even my family is aware that I've spent a lot of my life battling what I can only describe as crippling depression,” he wrote.
Australian reports say Thorpe, who has lived for the past 18 months in Switzerland, returned home to Sydney to spend the Christmas period with his family. He has reportedly been seen at several prominent social events including the Australian Open tennis.
Thorpe last year said he had given up hope of competing at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games and the 2016 Rio Olympics because of a shoulder injury. – Sapa-AP