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Australian Olympic Swimmers Escape Further Sanction From AOC

AOC President John Coates
John Coates, president of Australian Olympic Committee, arrives to deliver the AOC's findings during a press conference in Sydney on Aug. 23, 2013. Photographer: Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images

The Australian Olympic Committee said it won’t impose further sanctions on the men’s freestyle relay swimming squad for misbehavior including the misuse of prescription drugs in the leadup to last year’s London Games.

AOC President John Coates said today that his organization accepted the findings of a report by Senior Counsel Bret Walker that the penalties already handed down to the six athletes by Swimming Australia were “proportionate and sufficient.”

James Magnussen, Tommaso D’Orsogna, Cameron McEvoy, Eamon Sullivan and Matt Targett were given undisclosed fines and deferred suspensions in April after they admitted to taking the sedative Stilnox, which was banned by the AOC, as part of a bonding exercise. James Roberts said he didn’t take the drug, though had joined in with pranks that disturbed teammates.

The AOC conducted a separate investigation into the 400-meter relay squad’s behavior and had a range of penalties available to it, including withdrawing future funding from the swimmers. Coates said any further conduct that brings them or swimming into disrepute, or prejudices the image or values of the AOC, would “likely render them ineligible” for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“They’re on a very serious three-year good behavior bond,” Coates said in a news conference in Sydney. “This is the yellow card. I hope they learn from it.”

Walker concluded in his report that their conduct at a pre-Olympics training camp in Manchester, England, involved behavior toward some female swimmers that was “boorish, selfish, obnoxious and disrespectful.”

While their behavior did not have an effect on the performance of the squad or the female swimmers at the London Games, it affected morale, Walker found.

Australia’s swimmers had their worst Olympics in two decades last year, winning one gold medal, six silver and three bronze. Two subsequent reviews criticized the culture and leadership of the team.

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