London 2012

Damaged morale

Australian team endured its worst swimming haul in decades

Last Updated: 12/09/12 10:42am

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James Magnussen: One member of Australia's Olympic swimming team

James Magnussen: One member of Australia's Olympic swimming team

Australia's Olympic swimming team is facing disciplinary problems, including accusations of pranks ahead of the London Games, which undercut the squad's morale, a report said on Wednesday.

Australia endured its worst swimming haul in decades in London, winning just one gold medal, six silver and three bronze for its lowest tally in the pool since Barcelona in 1992.

The lacklustre performance, in which no individual swimming gold medal was won for the first time since the 1976 Montreal Games, is being considered as part of an independent review of the sport.

"They knocked on some people's doors and made prank calls. "
Mark Jones - James Magnussen's manager Quotes of the week

The Australian newspaper said a breakdown in discipline had occurred, with insiders claiming that transgressions by the world champion men's 4x100m freestyle relay team were overlooked because of their so-called special status.


It said there were "persistent reports" that some members of the six-man relay team had an initiation ritual in the days leading up to the Games which involved taking Stilnox -- a sleeping medication banned by the Australian team.

The "bonding" night also including the swimmers upsetting some team-mates and coaches by prank- calling and knocking on their doors late at night at their camp in Manchester, two days before the team went to London.

Several of the six relay swimmers, who failed to win a medal in that event despite being heavily favoured, confirmed they had misbehaved on the night, although none would admit to taking Stilnox.

Matt Targett told The Australian: "The prank calls did happen but we weren't under the influence of anything."

Prank calls

James Magnussen's manager Mark Jones agreed the relay team "acted up a bit".

He said: "They knocked on some people's doors and made prank calls but at absolutely no time was there any use of Stilnox or alcohol or any other substance."

Head coach Leigh Nugent refused to comment on the allegations.

He tadd: "I am commenting no longer on London Olympics or preparations until the (Swimming Australia) review has completed and recommendations (are) delivered."

However, team culture is under the spotlight after the Games, with reports that there was general feeling within the squad that some individual swimmers pursued their own aims, rather than those of the team.

Targett said team culture had changed in the six years he had been involved, with the loss of stars such as Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett felt by those left behind.

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