Report: ‘Toxic’ Australian swim culture marred team’s ‘Lonely Olympics’

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 7:25 EDT
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Swimmers doing lap training via AFP
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Drunkenness, misuse of prescription drugs and bullying were among “toxic” incidents in the under-performing Australian swimming team at the London Olympics, a report said on Tuesday.

So bad was morale at the 2012 Games, swimmers described them as the “lonely Olympics” and the “individual Olympics”, the damning Bluestone Review submitted to Swimming Australia has revealed.

“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 said.

“No such collective action was taken.”

Australia’s swimmers won just one gold medal, six silver and three bronze in London — their lowest tally in the pool since 1992 in Barcelona.

The team also went without an individual gold medal for the first time since the 1976 Montreal Olympics.

The report said cultural factors played a significant role in what it termed the unpleasant experience many Australian swimmers, coaches and staff had in London.

It said while there was no single “bad apple”, and things did not suddenly fall apart, a set of circumstances had been allowed to develop unchecked in which leadership appeared to lose out to the science of winning.

Swimming Australia, the sport’s governing body, asked consultancy firm Bluestone Edge to probe the “culture and leadership” at the top level of the sport, parallel to a broader post-Olympics review already under way.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

Agence France-Presse
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