SPEEDWAY star Darcy Ward has been convicted of fleeing police on a motorbike while under the influence of drink and drugs, according to reports.
The 20-year-old Poole Pirates rider admitted a string of offences when he appeared in court in his native Australia, The Queensland Times newspaper has reported.
Now Pirates promoter Matt Ford fears his top rider may have problems getting a visa to return to the UK for the start of the season next month.
And he said Ward is “struggling with fame” and “needs professional help” to get his life back on track.
Ford, who said Ward has not contacted him about the court case, said: “People that can almost walk on water in sport do struggle.
“No one can condone what Darcy has done. He has been incredibly silly and I think the sooner he seeks professional help, the better.”
The report says Ward had been drinking and smoking marijuana when police attempted to pull him over in his home town of Camira in the early hours of the morning. He is alleged to have fled on an unregistered and uninsured motorbike but was later located by officers.
He is reported to have been fined $5,500, around £3,700 and been given a two-year disqualification.
When contacted by the Daily Echo, Pirates team manager Neil Middleditch said: “It is what most young people do these days isn't it? He wasn't racing or putting anyone else's life at risk on the track.
“It is just another silly mistake from Darcy - hopefully it won't have an effect on his riding.”
Ward hit the headlines last May when he was on trial at Bournemouth Crown Court for sexual assault, following a complaint made in August 2011.
He was cleared by a jury and spoke afterwards of what a burden the case had been.
In October last year he was rushed to hospital with a bleed on his brain after a fight outside a pub in Sturminster Marshall.
In December Matt Ford said he was delighted to have signed Ward for another year but urged him to "grow up" .
Ward, twice world under-21 champion, is due to fly to England in the next few weeks and is expected to attend a Press and Practice Day on March 27, followed by the first meeting of the season, away to Swindon, the following day.
But on Monday Echo Sport reported he was already facing problems with his visa. Guidelines from the UK Border Agency indicate Ward could now be refused entry because of his conviction.
The relevant section says there can be “discretionary refusal of entry clearance where a person has been convicted of or admitted an offence for which they have received a non custodial sentence.”
This is his first season as a full-time Grand Prix rider and he also rides professionally in Poland.
More reaction from Matt Ford in Echo Sport.