Drugs may have caused death of jockey

By: Tony Koch, Peter Kogoy

ONE of the country's leading jockeys, who was found dead in his Brisbane home yesterday morning, had hours earlier collapsed after taking drugs while attending a concert of the American heavy metal band Metallica.
Family friends yesterday confirmed that Stathi Katsidis, 31, had attended the concert with a group of friends at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre at Boondall, a suburb near the jockey's Hendra home. He was taken home and at about 8am yesterday, his partner, Melissa Jackson, was unable to wake him.
Queensland police yesterday said there were no suspicious circumstances in his death. They also ruled out suicide. But other police sources told The Australian that he had ingested ``gear'' (drugs) on his night out at the concert.
Tributes yesterday poured in for the popular jockey, who had battled drug and alcohol problems and appeared to turn his life around, winning a string of major races. He was named the 2010 George Moore Queensland Jockey of the Year, with successes including the Magic Millions on Military Rose and the AJC Derby on Shoot Out.
Katsidis was booked to ride Shoot Out in both this week's Cox Plate at Moonee Valley and the Melbourne Cup.
In February 2008, he was charged with driving a vehicle while he had a blood alcohol reading more than three times the legal limit and two months later tested positive for ecstasy in a random drug test at the Ipswich races.
During his subsequent nine-month suspension from riding, Katsidis underwent a rehabilitation program, and his family and friends were convinced by
his assurances and his racing
wins that he had overcome his addiction.
His brother, Michael, is a world boxing champion based in Las Vegas. He is currently in Thailand preparing for a world title bout with Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez, to be staged in Las Vegas on November 28.
Queensland Jockeys Association president Mary Collier yesterday said her members were devastated by the news of the death of the champion jockey.
``Stathi was a true racing character, a fierce competitor who always spoke his mind and loved the industry,'' she said.