Aussie Olympic Swim Team Accused of "Toxic" Behavior
A report blames a sub-par performance on drug use, drunkenness, and social media hijinx.
Misuse of prescription drugs, drunkenness and bullying were cited among the reasons for the Australian swim team's unusually subpar performance at the 2012 London Olympics, according to a report released today. "Standards, discipline and accountabilities for the swim team at the London Olympics were too loose," says the report, which accuses the team coaches of being lenient towards bad behavior. "There were enough culturally toxic incidents across enough team members that breached agreements (such as getting drunk, misuse of prescription drugs, breaching curfews, deceit, bullying) to warrant a strong, collective leadership response that included coaches, staff and the swimmers," it reads, "No such collective action was taken." The report also claims the team's irresponsible use of social media exacerbated the problem. During the games, Emily Seebohm blamed her loss on her "Twitter addiction," and Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk were banned from social media after posting a photo of themselves online holding guns.
London 2012 was the first time Australia failed to win more than one swimming gold medal since 1992. Barclay Nettlefold, President of Swimming Australia, says the organization has already created a 100-day plan to address issues of team morale and behavior. "Swimming has a proud history in this country and everyone in the sport wants to maintain and improve on the credibility and integrity which has developed over more than a century of success," he said. "Before we look at winning gold medals, we want to win back the admiration of the nation." This is the second major blow this year to Australia's reputation for athletic excellence. Earlier this month, the government released a report accusing the nation's athletes of "widespread use" of performance enhancing drugs.