No More Punishment For Aussie Sprinters, Says AOC

James Magnussen, left, at the start of a very fine 2013 season in Perth (Courtesy: Swimming Australia)
James Magnussen, left, at the start of a very fine 2013 season in Perth (Courtesy: Swimming Australia)

The Australian Olympic Committee will not to impose any further sanctions on the Aussie men’s freestyle relay swim team for the use of the sleeping tablet Stilnox in the lead-up to the London Olympics. The substance had been banned by the AOC weeks before the Games over dependency fears.

AOC chief John Coates said today that the penalties imposed by Swimming Australia – reprimands, fines and a form of suspended sentence – on the six swimmers in question were sufficient.

Swimming Australia punished sprinters James Magnussen, Eamon Sullivan, Matt Targett, James Roberts, Tommaso D’Orsogna and Cameron McEvoy  for their bonding session at a pre-Olympic camp in Manchester last year.

All but Roberts admitted taking Stilnox. The sleeping aid was not the only reason for the reprimands. On a list of items that contributed to a report concluding that there was a “toxic culture” on the 2012 Olympic team, was waking teammates with prank calls and door-knocking late in the evening.

On the eve of retaining his 100m freestyle world title in Barcelona, Magnussen, spoke to about the grief of 2012.

The AOC report into the events of 2012 will be discussed at the next meeting of the Swimming Australia board.

Swimming Australia issued the following statement:

Swimming Australia today acknowledges the findings from the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) regarding its investigation into athlete behaviour before last year’s London Olympic Games.

During this period the athletes were members of both the Australian Olympic Team and the Australian Swim Team.

The Swimming Australia Integrity Panel investigated the matter earlier this year based on information it had available at that time. The findings of this review were presented to the Swimming Australia Board in April.

Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson today thanked the AOC for presenting its findings, which will be discussed and reviewed at the next Swimming Australia Board meeting.

“On behalf of Swimming Australia, I would like to thank the AOC for its input into this matter. Their findings will assist us to further define and administer new and appropriate codes of conduct for the sport. We will continue to work closely with management, the athletes, coaches and the Australian Swimmers’ Association (ASA) to consider the findings in light of our recently established code of conduct.” said Mr Anderson.

“Ultimately, we are working towards instilling a much stronger culture within the sport – a performance culture underpinned by respect, accountability and integrity.”

Following two extensive reviews into the sport earlier this year (Bluestone Edge Culture Review and Smith Review), Anderson said the AOC’s findings will further assist in the positive cultural change that is already happening within Swimming Australia.

“I have every confidence in the structural changes we have made and the leadership and management staff we have in place to administer those changes,” said Mr Anderson.

“We have appointed Michael Scott to the role of Director of High Performance, and we are well advanced in the process of finding a new Head Coach.  We have also created a new Integrity Officer position within the organisation responsible for overseeing our Ethical Framework and Code of Conduct.  And we are also close to announcing a new President for the sport.”

“In July and August, the Australian Swim Teams achieved strong results. We won some 40 medals at the world championships in Barcelona and Montreal. The performances in and out of the pool by our athletes, coaches and staff were a positive step forward in the first year of an Olympic and Paralympic cycle.”

“Importantly our team unity and general behaviour at both events has reinforced that we are making good progress, and that will remain a key point of focus in the lead up to Rio and beyond.”

End of statement 


Mike in Dallas

Just viewing it from the outside, it certainly looks as though this is a “moderate” slap on the wrist — not much more. The question that always remains to be answered: Does this kind of ‘punishment’ help to deter others in the future from doing the same? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. . . . . .

If I had been on the receving end of their highjinx, I doubt that I would be laughing — or forgiving! After all, this was an Olympic training camp in Manchester, not some swim clinic on the Gold Coast.


I believe that being under constant scrutiny and bashed by the wordsmiths of Aussie media for years is a heck of a punishment for one occasion of stupid behaviour.

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