Swimming: Australia's Games included 'drinking, drugs, bullying and deceit,' report finds

After worst Olympics in 20 years in London, findings reveal 'culturally toxic' environment

Australia's already battered sporting reputation has taken another hiding with the publication of a damning report into the country's worst Olympic swimming performance in 20 years. It identified a "culturally toxic" environment that went unchecked by coaching staff and included athletes "getting drunk, misusing prescription drugs, breaching curfews, deceit and bullying".

Swimming has long been the country's flagship Olympic sport but flopped badly in London – failing to win an individual gold medal for the first time since 1976. The return of one gold, six silver and three bronze was the lowest since the Barcelona Games in 1992. The report, authored by consultant Dr Pippa Grange, highlighted a hugely embarrassing culture of schoolboy pranks, low morale, lack of team spirit and leadership so inadequate that one of the recommendations is for the head coach, Leigh Nugent, to be sent on "an intensive coach-the-coach leadership program" for up to six months.

The report said: "Poor behaviour and disrespect within the team were not regulated or resisted strongly by other team members, and it was left unchecked or without consequence by staff and coaches on a number of occasions. 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. No such collective action was taken."

There were allegations in the wake of London of initiation rituals for some team members in which they took Stilnox, a sedative banned by the Australian Olympic Committee before the Games. Other swimmers described the Games as the "Lonely Olympics" and suggested the team was split. The only gold came in the women's 100m freestyle relay, while the likes of James Magnussen, aka the much-hyped Missile, failed to live up to billing.

The report added: "In addition, the glorification of a few was seen somewhere between embarrassing and irritating to other team members and added to a growing notion that the rest of the athletes were not really valued. One person said he felt that it was not really about whether you swam your heart out, it was about whether you could sell your heart out."

It is one of two reports into the swimming team's failings and between them they have made 41 recommendations. Australia had a poor Games overall, finishing 10th in the medal table, their lowest since 1992.

It follows the findings of a report by Australia's crime commission earlier this month that claimed widespread use of performance-enhancing substances across Australian Rules football and rugby league.

The swimming report contrasts with a similar exercise mounted by British Swimming after its team failed to win a single gold in home water and also fell short of its medal target. That found no fundamental flaws in the system. British Swimming has since had its central funding for the next Olympic cycle cut by UK Sport.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chef de Partie

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This award winning conference venues provider...

Recruitment Genius: Admin Assistant

£12000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding Insurance Brokerag...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced Mechanic / Plant Fitter

£24000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Lancashire based engineeri...

Recruitment Genius: Service Advisor

£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Day In a Page

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders