Australian officials probe Olympic prank

Australian officials probe Olympic prank

SYDNEY - Agence France-Presse
Australian officials probe Olympic prank

Australia’s Alicia Coutts, Ariana Kukors of the US, Australia’s Stephanie Rice, Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry compete in the Olympic 200m individual medley final. AP photo

Australian swimming boss Kevin Neil vowed an investigation yesterday into reports of pranks, ill-discipline, and an initiation ritual involving sedatives among the London Games squad.

The sport is undergoing an independent review after Australia won just one gold medal, six silver and three bronze at the Olympics -- its lowest tally in the pool since Barcelona 1992. Recent reports have suggested some members of the much-vaunted but ultimately unsuccessful six-man freestyle relay team had an initiation ritual days before the Games that involved taking the banned sedative Stilnox.

There have also been claims of swimmers upsetting teammates 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.

Neil said the claims would be fully investigated as part of the review and he could “guarantee we’ll get to the bottom of it,” warning that swimmers faced expulsion from the squad if the Stilnox allegations were true.

Australian team officials banned London Games athletes from using Stilnox, a powerful sleeping tablet with sometimes dangerous side-effects, which can include walking and driving cars while asleep. “If proven, a judiciary process needs to be adhered to,” Neil told News Limited newspapers of the Stilnox claims.

Neil accepted responsibility for Australia’s poor showing, its first Olympics without an individual swimming gold since 1976. But he said there had been a “real downturn over some time” in Australia’s swimming ranks.