Olympic cyclist arrested in a Thai gym and forced to spend four nights in filthy jail after police receive tip-off he was working without a permit.
Marc Ryan, 37, who has two Olympic bronze medals for New Zealand under his belt, was arrested earlier this month at a gym in Bangkok.
Police alleged Ryan had been working illegally at the Bangkok Get Fit cycling studio after being tipped off that foreign coaches were working without the proper visas.
The cyclist was then forced to sleep on the floor of a crowded detention center with nearly a hundred other people for days – fearing he would never return home.
Ryan had moved to Thailand two years ago and held a working visa.
But after changing jobs, Ryan had to apply for a different visa and had stopped working between August and October while the application was processed – but authorities believed he was working illegally.
The 37-year-old told the New Zealand Herald, his time spent in the detention center had felt like a prison sentence.
‘It was like a jail and the first two nights were bad,’ he said.
‘I was lucky to get out. Some people had been in there a long time.’
The cyclist was forced to sleep in a dirty and crowded cell along with six others for the first half of his stay.
He spent the cold nights sleeping on the floor, unable to phone anybody as mobiles weren’t allowed.
Ryan then faced a court hearing, pleading guilty as he had featured on marketing campaigns for the company.
He was fined NZ$250 and was due to return to New Zealand but learnt he had to spend another two nights in the detention center.
The room held just two toilets between 80 people and no showers, and all detainees were forced to sleep on the floor.
After a tumultuous four days, Ryan made it back to New Zealand two weeks ago but his girlfriend still remains in Thailand.
He said he was told he would ‘go missing’ and threatened before his deportation.
The 37-year-old is able to return to the country but says he’s in no rush.
During his time at the gym, Ryan trained professional cyclists as well as running fitness classes.
He won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and again in the 2012 London Games.
He retired from the sport in 2016.