Six members of Australia’s 400- meter freestyle relay men’s swimming squad were given suspended bans and fines for misbehavior including the misuse of prescription drugs in the leadup to last year’s Olympic Games.
Following an investigation by its Integrity Panel, Swimming Australia said the athletes, who weren’t named in a statement today announcing the penalties, will be required to make undisclosed payments to the governing body and received deferred suspensions after they “failed to demonstrate the level of conduct required of members of the team.”
“We believe these athletes showed poor judgment in their actions and behavior, and such behavior is unacceptable for members of the Australian swim team,” Swimming Australia President Barclay Nettlefold said in the statement.
The 400-meter relay squad said at a Feb. 22 news conference that they’d behaved inappropriately at a pre-Olympics training camp in Manchester. James Magnussen, Tommaso D’Orsogna, Cameron McEvoy, Eamon Sullivan and Matt Targett admitted to taking the prescription sedative Stilnox, that was banned by the Australian Olympic Committee, as part of a bonding exercise. James Roberts said he did not take the drug, though had joined in with pranks that disturbed other teammates.
Their admissions came three days after the release of two reviews that criticized the culture and leadership of the Australian swimming team, which had its worst performance in the Olympic pool in two decades last year. Australians won one gold medal, six silver and three bronze in London.
The men’s relay team finished fourth in their event.
The integrity panel also investigated allegations of drunkenness and bullying during the camp and the Olympic swimming competition, though found no evidence to sanction any athlete, coach or team official, Swimming Australia said.
Nettlefold said his organization will continue to assist the AOC, which is conducting a separate probe into the relay squad’s behavior. The AOC said today that its investigation isn’t yet complete, though the judge leading it would consider Swimming Australia’s findings in his final report.
“We have taken many steps towards developing a more positive culture within the team and the organization already this year, and we’re confident we are heading in the right direction,” Nettlefold added.
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