Australia swim chief resigns after Olympic fiasco

ANTICS ABROAD::Kevin Neil’s resignation comes after the announcement of an independent review of the sport’s culture after rumors of drug-fueled initiation rites


Sat, Nov 24, 2012 - Page 19

Swimming Australia chief executive Kevin Neil quit his post on Thursday in the wake of the team’s poor showing at the London Olympics, which was tarred by reports of pranks and ill-discipline.

Australia’s swimmers won just one gold, six silver and three bronze in London, their lowest tally in the pool since the 1992 Barcelona Games, and were without an individual gold medalist for the first time since Montreal in 1976.

“I have witnessed great changes and seen how swimming continues to be Australia’s premier Olympic and Commonwealth Games sport,” Neil said in a statement. “Following the below-expected results at the London Olympics, swimming is now undertaking various reviews to set the new course for the future and it is therefore appropriate to step aside to allow the sport to progress to its next exciting phase.”

Earlier this month, Australian swimming officials announced an independent review of the sport’s culture at elite level after rumors of initiation rituals involving prescription drugs in London.

Swimming Australia, the sport’s governing body in the country, said consultancy Bluestone Edge would lead a probe of top level “culture and leadership,” in parallel with a broader post-Olympics review already under way.

That review launched in August is examining why the once-dominant swimming team fell so short.

In the lead-up to the Games, reports suggested some members of the much-vaunted, but ultimately unsuccessful six-man freestyle relay team had an initiation ritual that involved taking the sedative Stilnox.

Stilnox was banned by Australian Olympic officials ahead of the London Games.