Updated: 04/19/2013 12:29 | By Agence France-Presse

Fines, suspensions for Australian swimmers

Six Australian swimmers who admitted taking banned sleeping pills and playing pranks at a pre-Olympics training camp last year were on Friday fined and slapped with deferred suspensions.


Fines, suspensions for Australian swimmers

Australian swimmer James Magnussen and members of Australia's much-hyped men's Olympic swim relay team leave a press conference after owning up to taking part in "stupid" pre-Games pranks, in Sydney, on February 22, 2013. Six swimmers, including Magnussen, were on Friday fined and slapped with deferred suspensions by Swimming Australia.

The sport's governing body Swimming Australia said the six-man 4x100m freestyle relay squad, who confessed to the medication and misbehaviour in February, had been formally investigated by an integrity panel.

"The panel found that the six members of the men's 4x100m freestyle relay team in London failed to demonstrate the level of conduct required of members of the (Olympic) team," Swimming Australia said in a statement.

"As a result... six athletes will be required to make payments to Swimming Australia and will receive deferred suspensions for breaches of their behavioural obligations."

The body did not specify how much the fines were or the length of the deferred suspensions for the six -- James Magnussen, Eamon Sullivan, James Roberts, Matt Targett, Cameron McEvoy and Tommaso D'Orsogna.

The much-hyped relay team failed to win a medal in London, finishing fourth behind France, the United States and Russia in an event that Australia had hoped would kick off a string of medal-winning performances in the pool.

It was part of a lacklustre London showing by the once-dominant Australian swimming team, which delivered its lowest tally in the pool since Barcelona 1992 -- one gold, six silver and three bronze.

It was also Australian swimming's first Games without an individual gold medal since the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

Two inquiries commissioned after the disappointing performance found the squad lacked leadership and that "toxic" incidents such as drunkenness and bullying had gone unchecked.

Wholesale reforms have begun in the sport, beginning with the appointment of two new bosses to Swimming Australia and new programmes to boost high performance, team-building and address psychological issues for athletes.

Leigh Nugent also resigned as head coach of the national team.

President Barclay Nettlefold said the integrity panel's findings had been presented to the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) for further consideration, and the sport was now focused on "developing the right culture and ethical framework to enable athletes and coaches to perform at their best".

"We believe these athletes showed poor judgement in their actions and behaviour, and such behaviour is unacceptable for members of the Australian swim team," Nettlefold said.

"We have taken many steps towards developing a more positive culture within the team and the organisation already this year, and we're confident we are heading in the right direction."

The AOC launched its own independent inquiry into the relay team and other "conduct of concern" during the Games and said the investigation's chief Bret Walker was yet to hand down his findings.

"The AOC will ask Mr Walker to consider Swimming Australia's findings in completing his report," it said.

Swimming Australia said its panel had looked into allegations of drunkenness but found insufficient evidence for sanctions.

It also examined bullying claims but there were no formal complaints made and no action recommended on that front, though an unidentified team member was formally reprimanded for "inappropriate behaviour" toward another.

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