Swimming Australia Issues Punishment For Olympic Relay Members’ Misconduct

BELCONNEN, Australian, April 19. SWIMMING Australia has finalised its Integrity Panel Report following allegations of inappropriate behaviour and has now presented that report to the Australian Olympic Committee for further consideration.

As a result of the Swimming Australia Integrity Panel report, six athletes will be required to make payments to Swimming Australia and will receive deferred suspensions for breaches of their behavioural obligations.

The Integrity Panel investigated allegations of inappropriate behaviour and misuse of prescription drugs by members of the Australian Swim Team during the Staging Camp in Manchester last year.

The Panel found that the six members of the men's 4x100m freestyle relay team in London failed to demonstrate the level of conduct required of members of the Team by either:

i. the inappropriate distribution and or use of the prescription drug Stilnox;

ii. participating in a bonding session that resulted in prank telephone calls and door knocking to fellow Team members in the late hours of the evening; and

iii. general misbehaviour.

The Integrity Panel also investigated allegations of drunkenness but found no evidence to sanction any athlete, coach or team official in relation to alcohol use during the Staging Camp and swimming component of the Olympic Games.

Allegations of bullying within the Team at the Staging Camp and during the Games were also investigated by the Panel, however no formal complaints were made to the Panel during the investigation and no recommendations of sanctions in that regard were made to the Board.

The Panel also looked into an allegation of inappropriate behaviour by a team member towards another team member in January, and upon consideration of the Panel's findings the Board has issued a reprimand to the athlete concerned.

Swimming Australia President Barclay Nettlefold said the organisation will continue to assist the Australian Olympic Committee in their investigation if required, as they work towards developing the right culture and ethical framework to enable athletes and coaches to perform at their best.

“We believe these athletes showed poor judgement in their actions and behaviour, and such behaviour is unacceptable for members of the Australian Swim Team,” said Nettlefold.

“We have taken many steps towards developing a more positive culture within the team and the organisation already this year, and we're confident we are heading in the right direction.”

Swimming Australia will be making no further comment on the matter.

The above article is a press release submitted to Swimming World Magazine. It has been posted in its entirety without editing. Swimming World offers all outlets the chance to reach our audience by contacting us at Newsmaster@swimmingworldmagazine.com. However, Swimming World reserves the right to choose what material is posted.

Perspective by Swimming World's Jeff Commings:

Swimming Australia's punishment of the athletes involved in prank calls and other acts of misbehavior during a pre-Olympics staging camp came at the right time. With less than a week until the start of the Australian world championship trials, the last thing these swimmers need is attention drawn to them for the wrong reason as they race in Adelaide. Five of the six swimmers involved are racing in the 100 freestyle next week (Eamon Sullivan is taking a break), and though it's likely many thoughts will turn to that night in Manchester and the subsequent media frenzy surrounding their behavior, perhaps this punishment will close a dark chapter for all involved, and shift the focus to getting as many Australians on the medal podium as possible at the world championships.

Should the swimmers have received a stricter punishment? I think so, but I didn't expect Swimming Australia to keep James Magnussen out of next week's meet just to send a message. A “deferred suspension” is probably the harshest thing they are going to give its fastest swimmers. Had this incident involved “lesser athletes,” the punishment might have been more severe.

I believed the athletes when they recently admitted their guilt and apologized. In the public's eye, they are forgiven. Now, let's swim fast!

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