By: Chris Barrett
American swimmer Anthony Ervin has revealed how he spiralled into a life of alcohol, drugs and sex addiction after he won gold in Sydney in an extraordinary interview coinciding with his Olympic Games comeback.
The 31-year-old Californian won a gold medal in the 50m freestyle in Sydney 2000 and, eight years after quitting the sport, is appearing in his second Olympics having again won a spot on the US team. A former world record holder over the one-lap thrash and dash, Ervin told Rolling Stone he had experimented with marijuana and psychedelic drugs while at university in the lead-up to qualifying for Sydney, and he also lowered his dosage for the drugs treating the Tourette’s syndrome with which he had been diagnosed.
In the years afterwards, he told the magazine, swimming took a back seat to an existence centred around heavy drinking, drug use and womanising as he moved to New York and joined a band. It was a destructive lifestyle that he said, at its lowest ebb, featured a failed suicide attempt and a crash on his motorbike while trying to evade police.
Ervin said at the time he viewed women as “objects to destroy at will”. “There were so many phases of casual sex, which now seems repugnant. Not that I don’t believe it’s a liveable lifestyle,” Ervin said in the interview. “I just don’t think it’s for me. I can’t handle it.
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