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  • Coates Warns Australian Swimmers of Future Misconduct


    AOC president John Coates (Getty Images)
    (ATR) The Australian Olympic Committee warns six swimmers that they risk expulsion from the 2016 Olympics team if there is any repeat of their misconduct in the build-up to London 2012.

    Swimming Australia handed down deferred bans to world 100 meters freestyle champion James Magnussen and his 4x100 relay team mates in April for using the sedative Stilnox in a bonding session at a U.K. training camp. The incident was described as disreputable and against the best interests of the Australian Olympic team. 

    A report into the misconduct by senior counsel Bret Walker said the incident involved behavior towards some female swimmers in the team that was 'boorish', selfish, obnoxious and disrespectful".

    The AOC commented Friday after receiving the report. His probe extended into the conduct of various team officials and other athletes.

    Accepting the recommendations of the report, the AOC said the six swimmers were in breach of the team membership agreement and considered the fine imposed by Swimming Australia as proportionate.

    “Any further conduct which brings them or their sport into disrepute or which is inconsistent with, or prejudicial to, the best interests, image or values of the AOC, is likely to render them ineligible for selection to the 2016 Australian Olympic Team,” the Olympic committee said in a statement Friday.

    AOC president John Coates told a press conference today that further misconduct would make the swimmers "jointly and severally liable" for the approximate  $135,000 costs of Walker’s investigation.
    "This is the yellow card. There's just no excuse for this sort of behavior, these are financially well-supported swimmers, some of them had a number of Olympic Games, so I'm disappointed with that,” Coates was quoted by Reuters as saying.
    James Magnussen won individual silver at the London Olympics (Getty Images)

    Magnussen won silver in the men’s 100m but the relay team missed out a podium finish in Australia’s worst Olympic swimming performance for two decades.

    The AOC also said Swimming Australia’s head coach Leigh Nugent was in breach of his Team Membership Agreement obligations for failing to investigate the circumstances behind the training camp incident when he was alerted to it six days before the London Games opened and again on Aug 3, 2012. He has since quit the role.

    In comments about the culpability of Swimming Australia, the AOC warned the federation and other national sport governing bodies “that the AOC’s contractual obligations with athletes and officials have priority over any others during the Games period”.

    Looking ahead to Rio 2016, Coates said Australia has appointed its first woman Chef de Mission for an Olympics. Kitty Chiller is taking over from London chef de mission Nick Green, who has stepped down from the job due to family commitments.

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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