August 23 - Findings from an investigation into Australia's 4x100 metres men's relay swimming team have left all six members of the squad with the threat of missing out on Rio 2016 hanging over their heads as the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) dished out a "yellow card" to those involved.
The squad members, including world 100m freestyle champion James Magnussen, have been told in no uncertain terms that further inappropriate conduct will not be tolerated by the AOC, after a report into the incident labelled their behaviour at a London 2012 lead-in camp as "'boorish', selfish, obnoxious and disrespectful."
The other five team members, Matt Targett, Eamon Sullivan, James Roberts, Cameron McEvoy and Tommaso D'Orsogna, joined Magnussen to make a humbling admission and apology to press back in February after rumours emerged that they had used the sedative Stilnox at the "team bonding session", which was banned by the AOC after they were alerted to its dangers by former Olympic champion Grant Hackett, who became reliant on the "evil" drug towards the end of his career.
The team then wreaked havoc at a lead-in camp in Manchester under the influence of the drug, prompting complaints from 4x200m freestyle Olympic silver medallist Jade Neilsen, who said she and an unnamed team-mate were subjected to "inappropriate behaviour" from Magnussen, Roberts and McEvoy.
Neilsen and her team-mate were on the receiving end of "childish" pranks such as door-knocking, phone calls and "generally disruptive behaviour" by the intoxicated athletes, but decided not to pursue a complaint under the AOC Ethical Behaviour By-law for bullying or harassment, which could have led to a far more severe punishment for those involved had they been found guilty.
All six relay team members were given deferred suspensions by the AOC in April, which was deemed an appropriate punishment in the report, but it also warned that "further conduct which brings them or their sport into disrepute" would be "likely to render them ineligible for selection to the 2016 Olympic team".
Leading Sydney barrister Bret Walker headed the investigation and returned a 60-page report to the AOC, which will not be made public due to confidentiality issues.
The AOC released a statement today upon receiving the report, which reads: "Given the publicity over the announcement of the ban, the AOC could not understand how the relay team members could have risked their membership of the team or how they came to have Stilnox in their possession at the time, and why the AOC was never told of the incident during the Games.
"It was also particularly shameful in view of the fundamental term of selection to the Australian Olympic team by which athletes acknowledge that it is an honour and a privilege to represent Australia at an Olympic Games."
The athletes claimed that they were unaware that the ban on Stilnox was in place when the incident occurred- a claim which has been accepted in the report.
"Mr Walker found that the Relay Team Members knew the AOC ban would be in place when they entered the Games Village in London, but honestly believed that the ban did not take effect until then," said the AOC.
"Had they known the ban was in place in Manchester, their conduct would have been very serious and deserving of even more condemnation."
Concerns were also raised with the way in which the issue was dealt with by team officials, particularly head coach Leigh Nugent, who was fired in February following a shameful Olympic campaign for Swimming Australia which produced their worst performance in the pool for 20 years.
Nugent was heavily criticised for his man-management skills in a February report into the "toxic culture" within the Australian swimming team at London 2012, which recommended he is sent on "an intensive coach-the-coach leadership programme".
The head coach denied being aware of any inappropriate behaviour at the camp, but Walker's report suggests otherwise.
"The conduct of the relay team swimmers in Manchester in fact came to the attention of a number of coaches the very next day," said the AOC following the delivery of the report today.
"At that stage they were aware of the door knocking, prank phone calls and disturbance of the female swimmers in their room.
"Some coaches raised the incident with the head coach, Leigh Nugent, who dismissed it and did not investigate it.
"This inflamed the situation amongst the athletes and coaches and was left to fester.
"The coaches concerned believed the incident was one for the head coach to investigate and they were reluctant to take it further at that time because of the imminence of the Games and the possibility of retribution towards their swimmers.
"The Head Coach did not report the door knocking and intrusion on the female swimmers to the Section Manager until Day 6 of the Games after the matter was raised with him by the team media services director, Mike Tancred, who had heard rumours of an incident in Manchester involving the relay team.
"At that time, the head coach spoke to the section manager who had the clear responsibility of reporting incidents or issues to the team executive.
"They regarded the intrusive conduct as a minor incident not worthy of report.
"This in hindsight was a mistake.
"Reasonable minds may differ about whether the section manager failed in his duties, with his limited knowledge at the time, to investigate further and report the incident to the team executive.
"Mr Walker made no adverse finding against him."
AOC President John Coates made his feelings clear in a news conference today upon receiving the report, as he warned the athletes that they will not be considered for selection should they commit any further misconduct.
"This is the yellow card," he said.
"There's just no excuse for this sort of behaviour, these are financially well-supported swimmers, some of them had a number of Olympic Games, so I'm disappointed with that."
Coates was also critical of the management of the team following the findings in the report, and confirmed that Nugent would not be considered for any role within the organisation in the future.
"I am disappointed that we didn't find out about it, that the management decided to keep it for themselves," he said.
"That's just not very smart.
"[Leigh Nugent] won't ever be on one of our teams again."
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February 2013: Australian Olympic swimming team could lose funding after admitting to using banned substance
February 2013: Australia Swimming appoints top rugby official to carry out investigation into London 2012 allegations
February 2013: Failure of Australian swimmers at London 2012 down to "toxic culture" review claims