O’Grady versus Chauffeur, round two.
Update on GreenBlunder: Exciting details continue to emerge in the story of Stuart O’Grady’s alleged assault on his chauffeur driver.
While there are two sides to every story and police have yet — surprisingly — to question O’Grady — it’s clear he made a momental blunder days before GreenEdge starts its first ProTour race at home in Australia. In media terms, that’s a PR disaster.
Speaking with the media, O’Grady didn’t offer a defense but more an excuse and a question. He admitted to “having a bit of fun,” — code for having too much to drink and ”having a bit of a sing” meaning he was loud and obnoxious. There was also the implied, I’m a big star, I deserve some leeway.
O’Grady then employed the strategy often sued by athletes and entertainers caught in embarrassing circumstances. He questioned the motive of the accuser and suggested it was media attention and money. “It’s very strange circumstances and from what I hear this isn’t the first time this person’s pulled this kind of, I’m going to call it a stunt,” said O’Grady. Score at least one point for O’Grady on that since the accuser went to a tabloid current affairs show first, then contacted police.
That brings us to Ralf Hadzic, the chauffeur driver and owner of Life’s A Cabernet. On the company website, Hadzic took the somewhat unusual step of writing a lengthy letter about the incident.
Now given O’Grady’s statements it might be easy to picture Hadzic as a low-life driver who’s a hot head and jealous of someone as well-paid, successful and famous as O’Grady. That’s not how he comes across in the letter.
It’s a generally thoughtful response to events and he makes a number of specific points that sound too true to be invention. In particular, he states that the restaurant where he picked up O’Grady had called to tell him that O’Grady and his party were drunk and that O’Grady dropped his Tour de France trophy at the restaurant and it broke in several pieces. Hadzic also wrote that O’Grady questioned his sexual preference and used insulting language with his own wife. Pretty damning and boorish behavior.
All in all, Hadzic doesn’t come across as a jerk or someone who wants to make a fast buck. He surely knows that in cases like this, victory usually goes to the celebrity who has more money, lawyers and fans willing to excuse bad behavior as long as the team is winning.
O’Grady told reporters he’s sad and disappointed about this whole thing. We’re guessing the management at GreenEdge is even more sad and disappointed.