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Ian Thorpe's management denies swimmer is in rehab

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'Not even my family is aware': Australian swimming champion Ian Thorpe has spoken about his long and private battle with depression.

'Not even my family is aware': Australian swimming champion Ian Thorpe has spoken about his long and private battle with depression. Photo: Neale Haynes

Ian Thorpe's management has denied that the Olympian is in rehab battling depression and alcohol abuse, saying instead he was in hospital for a shoulder operation.

The 31-year-old was injured in a fall earlier in the week, according to media reports on Friday, and was admitted to hospital on Wednesday night.

But his management, SEL, said the report he had been admitted to a rehabilitation facility was incorrect.

"Ian is not in rehab," an SEL representative said. "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."

Friends say Thorpe has struggled to adjust to life after swimming and with the disappointment of a failed comeback at the London Olympics in 2012.

The swimming great has been living in Switzerland for 18 months, but returned to Sydney to spend the Christmas period with his family at his parents' Panania home.

He has been seen at social events over the New Year, including at the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Thorpe released an autobiography last year in which he said he'd struggled with depression and alcohol abuse.

"Not even my family is aware that I've spent a lot of my life battling what I can only describe as crippling depression," the five-time Olympic gold medallist wrote.

He said he had also used alcohol as a way of dealing with hard times in his life.

A close friend of Thorpe said on Thursday night that they were thinking of the swimming legend.

"He had an accident at home," the friend said.

"He slipped and hurt himself.

"We're hoping he's going to be OK and make a full recovery."

Broadcaster Alan Jones, a close friend of Thorpe's, also said the swimmer had been going through some problems recently.

"Yes, it's serious but there's not a lot I can or want to add," Jones said on Thursday night.

"Ian is a beautiful person but he has difficulty recognising his problems."

* Readers seeking support and information about depression can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or MensLine Australia on 1300 78 99 78.

smh.com.au and AAP

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