PHOENIX, Arizona, August 23. DOWN Under in Australia, the six members of the Olympic 400 free relay that had pulled pranks during a pre-Olympics training camp last year were faced with the possibility of getting more severe fines and punishment from the Australian Olympic Committee, five months after Swimming Australia had already fined them and issued deferred sentences. But earlier today, the AOC decided to only hang a warning over their heads, saying the six -- James Magnussen, James Roberts, Matt Targett, Eamon Sullivan, Tom D'Orsogna and Cameron McEvoy -- could lose the chance to compete at the 2016 Olympics if they "bring themselves or their sport into disrepute" in the next three years. They could also be fined up to $150,000 in addition to losing out on their Olympic dream.
The AOC made its decision after reading a report that put much of the focus on then-head coach Leigh Nugent. The report stated that Nugent knew about that night of pranks that involved the six taking an illegal drug the next day, but waited at least a month to tell anyone about it. Nugent has since resigned from his post as national team head coach.
Meanwhile in Sydney, a few members of Australia's world championship team are competing at the short course meters nationals. Alicia Coutts, fresh from five medals at the world championships, won the 50 fly and 100 free today. Belinda Hocking, the silver medalist in the 200 back in Barcelona, won the 200 back easily and Kenneth To won the 100 free during this break from racing in the World Cup.
The FINA world junior swimming championships begins Monday in Dubai, and as we have been mentioning all week, Ruta Meilutyte is indeed competing in the meet. She's racing more than just the 50 and 100 breaststrokes, the events in which she owns the world records. She is also doing the 100 free, 50 fly, 50 back, 50 free and 200 IM. She'll have tough competition in the non-breaststroke events. Some of these swimmers could emerge as Olympic contenders in three years, so this will act as a breakthrough meet for many. We'll bring you results of the meet on swimmingworld.com.