Australia Swimming has taken a public relations hit the last day or so when two published independent reports called the 2012 London Olympic team “toxic.”
Specifically, the men’s team that included James Magnussen, Eamon Sullivan, James Roberts and Matt Targett, have come under scrutiny for their behavior at a training camp in Manchester leading up to the London Games.
Mel Stewart of SwimSwam.com said members of the Australian swim team, “Magnussen, Sullivan, James Roberts, Targett, Cameron McEvoy and Tommaso D’Orsogna will join Daniel Kowalski, CEO of Australia’s Swimmers Association and Barclay Nettlefold President of Australian Swimming at a press conference (Friday) where they will admit to their use/abuse of prescription drugs and inappropriate behavior at a staging camp in Manchester leading into the London Olympics.”
Various Australian newspapers have reported the men’s team, specifically the 4×100 free relay, was popping pills and taking energy drinks and going on “rampages” in the team hotel. The reports also said there was cases of “getting drunk, misuse of prescription drugs, breaching curfews, deceit and bullying.”
Australia is crazy nuts about swimming. It is a huge sport, right along with the NFL and NBA here in the U.S.
The Australia media covers swimming like ESPN covers Tim Tebow.
Anything whatsoever to do with swimming, positive or negative, is blown up in the media spotlight for weeks Down Under. Here’s an article from bordermai.com.au, perthnow.com.au, and the guardian.co.uk,
You can check out SwimSwam’s story here.
You can also read SwimmingWorld Magazine’s commentary here.
Here’s a snippet of the article from Swimming World:
“Now, here’s a little nugget that didn’t make that independent review. Remember when Nathan Adrian touched out the heavily favored James Magnussen for gold in the 100 free? In the days after his triumph, Mr. Adrian received many-a-deserved back slaps from swimmers from countless countries. But he never expected to get props from the teammates of the swimmer he’d just beaten. He did. Reports soon crossed the Atlantic that some Aussies actually thanked Adrian for beating a man who may have gotten too big for his britches.”
If that doesn’t say a lot about what was happening Down Under, it’s no wonder they only won 10 medals. That is equivalent to American team members congratulating South Africa’s Chad le Clos after he beat Michael Phelps in the 200 butterfly to win gold.
And we all know that never happened because the American team was as well-bonded as ever, and the team had mutual respect for everyone there, including the coaching staff. They were in London to do a job and they did it admirably.
I’ll post again when reports from the press conference are published.