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Bad Boy No.4: Mick Doohan

Doohan was a hardman even when the Arai came off, here is a chronicle of his brush with the law

Before Valentino Rossi came on the scene, many people were calling Mick Doohan the greatest motorcycle racer of all time. The Australian was the absolute master of the fire-breathing two-stroke 500cc machines when they were at their most evil and he won five consecutive world titles on NSR500 Hondas between 1994 and 1998. Doohan’s dominance of the premier class was so complete, and his rivals so far out of his league, that he once claimed racing was ‘boring as shit.’

As well as his ultra-aggressive riding style, Doohan was also famed for his absolute disregard of pain and injuries that would have ended the careers of lesser men. “I’m not a painkiller sort of person.” Doohan said, preferring instead to grit his teeth and live with the pain.

When he finally did suffer career-ending injuries in a crash at Jerez in 1999, Doohan became advisor to Rossi at Honda before finally disappearing from the sport once it became clear there was nothing he could teach the Italian superstar. But he hit the headlines again for all the wrong reasons in 2006 when he was arrested at a strip club in Darwin, Australia.

Security staff had asked the former champ to leave the Honeypot club at 2.50am after he seemingly got over-enthused with the entertainment and started performing his own strip tease. When challenged, Doohan threatened the bouncer, asking him, “How good are you mate?” Adding, “I’m going to job you.” Knowing the clout his name carries in Australia as a national hero, Doohan then boasted “If you want your job here, leave me alone, and if you ever want to work in Darwin again, I suggest you leave me alone.”  What a charmer.

When bouncer Adrian Hyde finally grabbed Doohan and bent his arms behind his back, Mick lost the plot and swung his head backwards to head-butt the man in the mouth. When the police arrived, Doohan was charged with assault and failing to leave licensed premises.

Doohan later admitted to police that he was so drunk he couldn’t remember a thing about the incident. He spent 14 hours in a police cell before facing the unenviable task of flying back home to the Gold Coast to explain matters to his wife before she read about it in the press.

Former WBF heavyweight boxing champ Joe Bugner leapt to his friend’s defence saying “Under the pressures that Mick went through in his racing days, he knows how to control himself and this is totally out of character. Strip club, or whatever club it is… I mean, leave the man alone. He is who he is, and he is one of the most recognised racing bike riders in the history of the world.”

He was even more recognisable after the publicity that surrounded his court case. When it came to trial in August 2006, the judge described Doohan as, “a hero, a legend, and a shining example of courage and achievement.” But added that his recent actions were, “awful.”

Doohan pleaded guilty to a charge of assault and another of ‘being an intoxicated person who failed to leave licensed premises when asked to do so.’ Magistrate Greg Cavanagh told Doohan “You have besmirched your reputation in a way that saddens us all. We expect our heroes to be, and to remain, flawless, and when they reveal themselves to have all the weaknesses and faults of mere mortals, it rather upsets us.”

Mighty Mick was fined $2,500 (about £1,500), but Cavanagh ordered that no conviction should be recorded against the former champ because of his sporting achievements and charity work. Among other things, Doohan is now an ambassador for the Salvation Army! He refused to make any comment as he left the court.

The entire incident was caught on security camera but, somewhat disappointingly, police in Darwin decided to withhold the tape. Shame, it would have made great viewing.

Bad Boy No 3: Juan Garriga | Bad Boy No 5: Mike Goodwin