Thu, May 29, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Court rules against brawling Aussie swimmer

AFP , SYDNEY

Australian swimmer Nick D'Arcy said yesterday he still had a slim chance of making the Beijing Olympics despite an appeal court ruling that he "did bring himself into disrepute" in a vicious bar brawl.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found Australian Olympic Committee chief John Coates was right to find the 20-year-old 200m butterfly swimmer had breached the team’s code of behavior.

Coates kicked the 200m butterfly hopeful off the team last month after an alleged attack on former swimmer Simon Cowley that left him with a broken jaw, a broken nose, a fractured eye socket, crushed cheekbone and fractured palate.

But the CAS also ruled that the decision to drop D’Arcy should be taken by the 15-member AOC executive committee, rather than by Coates personally, a loophole that D’Arcy said meant he retained a chance of making the team.

While the prospect of the AOC overturning Coates’ decision is considered remote, D’Arcy said he was hopeful.

“I would say I’m a slim chance of going now,” he told reporters.

“Even if there is still that slim chance, I’m still going to keep training,” he said.

D’Arcy is facing criminal charges of assault and causing grievous bodily harm over the incident, which happened at a bar as he and other Australian swimmers celebrated their selection for the Olympic squad.

Coates said the AOC committee would meet as soon as possible to decide whether to confirm his axing of D’Arcy.

The CAS said D’Arcy’s conduct was likely to bring him into disrepute with the public.

“We are satisfied that the conduct of the appellant in the early hours of March 30, 2008, was likely to, and did, bring himself into disrepute,” the CAS judgement said. “It follows that Mr. Coates was entitled to so find.”

The Lausanne-based CAS said court documents relating to the case showed that Cowley said he had approached D’Arcy to shake his hand when he was elbowed in the face.

D’Arcy has told police he reacted after Cowley slapped him in the face.

While the CAS found D’Arcy had brought himself into disrepute, it made no finding on Coates’ initial ruling that he had also brought his sport and the AOC into disrepute.

Coates said that the AOC accepted the CAS findings and a meeting of its executive committee would be held as soon as possible, probably late next week.

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