SYDNEY, May 24 (Reuters) - Australia’s most decorated Olympic shooter Michael Diamond needed help with personal problems long before he was arrested for drink driving and firearms offences at the weekend, said former team mate Russell Mark.
Diamond, who won back-to-back trap gold medals at the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics, was charged with “high range drink driving, not keeping firearm safe and handling or using firearm while under the influence of alcohol”.
While his arrest has jeopardised his chances of appearing at a seventh Olympics in Brazil in August, Mark, the double trap champion in Atlanta, said Diamond’s wellbeing was more important than medals.
“I actually feel sorry for Michael. Forget about the Olympic medals. He needs help, I tried to help him,” Mark, who has fallen out with Diamond, told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.
”It was only a matter of time before something like this happened.
“When Michael is not drinking he is manageable. But when he is drinking things become difficult.”
Mark told the newspaper he had previously informed Shooting Australia, the sport’s national governing body, of his concerns about Diamond’s behaviour but said officials had failed to take any action.
After Diamond’s arrest following a domestic dispute in Nelson Bay on Saturday, a shotgun with 150 rounds of ammunition was found in his car and a breath analysis showed he was three times over the legal blood-alcohol limit.
His driver’s and firearms licenses have been suspended and he has been granted bail to appear at court on June 7.
Australia’s Olympic team chef de mission Kitty Chiller said on Monday that Diamond’s nomination for Rio was up to Shooting Australia, but added that the AOC could still overrule it.
The selection of Australia’s trap team for Rio had already been delayed pending teenager Mitchell Iles’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Shooting Australia said in a statement on Monday that they were “working closely with Michael to support him and to ensure that his welfare is protected”. (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney,; Editing by Peter Rutherford)