Suspension of rugby players for 'excessive drinking' leads to new set of rules for the Australia's Olympians
The nation's rugby side suspended six players after drinking session before last weekend's game against Ireland
Wednesday 20 November 2013
The timing is coincidental, but starkly so as Monday's suspension of six Australian rugby union players for drinking has been followed by the release of a stringent and obsessively detailed set of rules which the nation's Olympians must now abide by.
Athletes face the possibility of disciplinary action not only for consuming alcohol but also for such connected offences as "having rambling conversations", "swaying, staggering or falling down" and "talking boisterously". Or, some might say, being Australian.
Australia endured a grim stay at London 2012, under-performing on the field and stumbling through a number of controversies off it. The swimming team was labelled "toxic", with several members criticised for drinking alcohol, while rower Josh Booth was detained by police after a shop window was smashed during a night out.
The new rules will come into force for next year's Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Australian Olympic Committee will allow athletes to drink outside the Olympic Village but that comes with a list of behaviours that could lead to disciplinary action: being disorderly or argumentative, bad-tempered, aggressive or using offensive language, swaying, staggering or falling down, speech which is loud and boisterous, having rambling conversations, having difficulty in paying attention or comprehending others, annoying fellow team members and others.
"It's about respect for the green and gold," said Kitty Chiller, who will be chef de mission at Rio in 2016. "It's respecting all the tradition and history and most of all it's about respecting their fellow team members. This is not a knee-jerk reaction to London. This is about moving forward with an even greater high-performance environment designed for success."
The new rules have been greeted with bemusement Down Under, one Australian newspaper calling them "weird", while another, tongue in cheek, pointed out that the country would not have won its first ever Winter Olympic gold medal in 2002 had the entire field not fallen down, leaving Steven Bradbury as the last speed-skater standing.
"I fully expect our team will buy into this culture of excellence," insisted Ian Chesterman, Australia's chef de mission at Sochi.
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