Relay team to lift lid on Games shame
Fronting the media ... James Magnussen and his teammates are set to attend a press conference. Photo: Brendan Esposito
THE first stage of Australian swimming's mea culpa following the damning reports into the sport will take place on Friday afternoon when the men's 4 x 100 metres relay team fronts a press conference at which they are expected to reveal explosive details about their behaviour, including the use of prescription drugs, in the lead-up to the London Games.
If sources are correct, it would be the first episode of naming and shaming following the reports that outlined a catalogue of problems within Swimming Australia and its Olympic campaign, including chronic mismanagement and favouritism, cases of bullying, abuse of prescription drugs, drunkenness and swimmers failing to support teammates.
For the men's relay team, a bonding session during a pre-Games camp in Manchester appears to have been one of the incidents that led the Bluestone report, compiled by Dr Pippa Grange, to refer to a ''toxic'' culture within the Australian swimming team. There have been allegations that team members used Stilnox, which had been banned by the Australian team officials, and were involved in childish incidents including making prank calls to female swimmers trying to sleep and banging on hotel room doors through the night.
The six-man relay team of James Magnussen, Eamon Sullivan, James Roberts, Matt Targett, Cameron McEvoy and Tommaso D'Orsogna will front the media to explain themselves.
D'Orsogna stirred up a hornets' nest last year when, in answering a question about Stilnox, replied: ''I'm not going to be the guy that stands up here and lies to Australia. But, at the same time, I'm just not going to comment. I'll leave it at that.''
An Olympic team coach, who did not want to be named, told Fairfax Media on Thursday the Stilnox episode did occur. The coach claimed D'Orsogna was the only member who did not take the Stilnox.
''We were all young blokes once … but it was completely at the wrong time and certainly the wrong experience, having a Stilnox party,'' the coach said. ''I think what they did over there was just silly and stupid … Stilnox is no stranger over the years. The team doctor years ago was prescribing it to the swimmers.
''It affects people different ways. Some people use it responsibly, and others don't, and I think the modern group use it as a way to get funky. The thing was it was banned, everyone knew that, and they went against that. That showed a bit of dissension to the rules, which shouldn't have happened.''
Former Australian Rugby Union chairman Peter McGrath will head a Swimming Australia integrity panel that will look to discipline athletes, coaches and staff in the wake of the damning reviews.