TWO disturbing reports into a dysfunctional Olympic swimming team devoid of leadership in London last year will see athletes found guilty of abusing prescription drugs and bullying exposed and hit with significant fines.
Deeply troubled by an independent culture and leadership probe that revealed multiple ''culturally toxic incidents'' occurred within the national swimming unit last July, the Australian Olympic Committee is intent on acting upon flagrant breaches of the team agreement.
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Australian swim team in hot water
Our panel of sports journalists discuss the fallout from a damning report on the Australian Olympic swim team.
Central to the case is the flouting of the AOC's controversial pre-Olympics ban on Stilnox, a sedative and hallucinogen prescribed to treat insomnia but that is also misused recreationally.
While a culture and leadership review prepared by Dr Pippa Grange for Swimming Australia did not identify swimmers or detail their indiscretions, the government-funded sporting federation - now under new leadership and on notice following a disastrous London Games in and out of the pool - has vowed to identify and punish those at fault.
The AOC says it will recoup the money paid to any swimmer who won medals in London found guilty of breaching the team agreement and impose future financial sanctions on others who might not have won medals. Australian gold medallists at the London Olympics earned $20,000 under an AOC incentive scheme, silver medallists were paid $13,400 and bronze medallists won $10,000.
The national Olympic Committee president, John Coates, said on Monday he would await the results of further investigations by Swimming Australia before determining any fines. Meanwhile a disappointed Nick Green, who made his debut as Australian chef de mission in London, told Fairfax Media he had no inkling of the swimmers' delinquency last July.
An abridged version of Dr Grange's report revealed ''there were enough culturally toxic incidents across enough team members that breached agreements [such as getting drunk, misuse of prescription drugs, breeching curfews, deceit, bullying] to warrant a strong, collective leadership response that included coaches, staff and the swimmers.''
Dr Grange said ''no such collective action was taken'' - a damning finding against swimming bosses that Green found wholly unsatisfactory.
While Dr Grange reported that ''few situations [in London] … were truly grave in nature, they compounded in significance as no one reined in control''.
A trained psychologist who has worked with numerous AFL clubs and sporting organisations, Dr Grange conducted 57 recorded interviews with Olympic swimmers and Australian team support staff on the basis of anonymity, meaning she cannot inform Swimming Australia about the specifics of the most serious allegations.
Australian Olympians are expected to abide by the team agreement on their pre-Olympics camps, during the Games and on their way home.
Swimming Australia is understood to be well aware that Australian swimmers used Stilnox, despite the AOC ban on the drug, and reports of a drunken ''bonding'' session between the much vaunted men's 4x100-metre freestyle relay team on a pre-Games camp in Manchester have been confirmed.
The night led to pranks that upset coaches and other swimmers before the relay team, which featured James Magnussen and Eamon Sullivan, failed to win a medal in one of the shock performances at the Games.
Dr Grange's report finds bad behaviour went unchecked, individualism thrived, and London was remembered by many as the unpleasant ''lonely Olympics''. ''At its least attractive, the team dynamic became like a schoolyard clamour for attention and influence,'' the report says.
What the swimming reviews found
- A "toxic" culture included drunkenness, misusing prescription drugs, breaking curfews and bullying.
- Lack of moral authority, discipline and leadership.
- Swimmers thought London was the "onely Olympics" and felt unsupported.
- Poor behaviour and lack of respect went unchecked.
- No visible national direction.
- Lack of accountability, transparency and communication.
- Strategic planning not followed