Swimming Australia President John Bertrand believes the response to London 2012 put too much pressure on the swimmers ©Swimming Australia

Swimming Australia President John Bertrand has criticised the response of former leaders of the organisation after scandals involving the country's team at London 2012.

Allegations of drunkenness, misuse of prescription drugs, curfew breaches and bullying emerged in a review into the conduct of the team at the Games, with Australia securing just one gold medal.

The tally was the country’s worst in swimming since the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games, in one of the sports that they historically thrive in, and changing the culture has been a major priority ahead of Rio 2016.

Athletes were said to have held parties which disrupted fellow team members who were waiting to compete in London, while members of the men's 4x100 metres freestyle relay team were alleged to have taken Stilnox, a sleeping pill banned by the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC), as part of a team bonding exercise.

The squad, comprising of James Magnussen, Matt Targett, Eamon Sullivan, James Roberts, Cameron McEvoy and Tommaso D'Orsogna, arrived in London confident of winning gold but ended up fourth in the final.

The damning verdict of the review was that a “toxic culture” had been allowed to develop among the swimmers, due to slack management.

Bertrand became President of Swimming Australia in 2013, after the review, and believes the response to the scandals could have been handled better as he looks ahead to Rio.

In particular, he criticised the public release of information surrounding the controversy.

Australia's men's 4x100m freestyle team were widely criticised following London 2012
Australia's men's 4x100m freestyle team were widely criticised following London 2012 ©Getty Images

"Would we do that again? You'd have to say no,” he told ABC Radio Australia

“You'd have much more preparation in terms of how you'd say something like that to the world.

“Looking back on it, you shake your head at it and say it could have been handled better in terms of the response of Swimming Australia to the media.

"There was enormous pressure [on the athletes], absolutely enormous, and it was unfair in many ways.”

With 80 per cent of the staff having been changed within the organisation since London 2012, the Australian team are targeting a large haul of medals at Rio 2016.

At the 2015 World Aquatics Championships in Kazan, the team emerged with seven golds, three silver and four bronze medals.