Shayna Jack is just the latest Aussie swimmer to find trouble.
Shayna Jack is just the latest Aussie swimmer to find trouble.

Aussie swimmers’ sordid rapsheet

COMMENT

AS 20-year-old Australian swimmer Shayna Jack awaits her fate after a marathon Friday meeting with ASADA over her positive doping test, former WADA chief Dick Pound has hammered Australian swimming.

And he is 100 per cent right to do so.

Pound, who served WADA for eight years as president, unloaded on Aussie swimming for what he seemed to indicate was its hypocritical stance on Chinese swimmers, specifically 200m and 400m freestyle world champ Sun Yang.

"There has been a rather strange distinction between Australia's reaction to Sun Yang and to your own swimmer," Pound, a former Canadian swimming champion who also served as vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, told Nine Media.

"Australia should make it clear that they are as upset about one of their swimmers being caught for doping as they would be if the swimmer was Chinese.

"Australia has always been pretty firm about its opposition to doping but if the sauce is good for the goose it has to be good for the gander.

"If you are going to be holier-than-thou you should come to the discussion with clean hands."

As I alluded to earlier Pound is not wrong - Australian sport has always prided itself on being clean, swimming especially.

Our list of champions in the pool is long but even many of those have a dark past and Jack's doping ban is just the latest lowlight.

The record in the pool is now as tarnished as that out of it, which includes assault charges, apartment rampages, homophobic tweets and domestic violence.

AUSSIE SWIMMING'S SORDID RAPSHEET

Before Jack, Thomas Fraser-Holmes was given a year-long ban after missing three drug tests in 2017. He may not have doped but the technical breach is still a drug-related ban.

That followed Kylie Palmer testing positive to masking agent furosemide in 2013 before a doping case in 2015 found the drug was in her system. Only a reprimand was issued in a bizarre case.

The swim team was also in the drugs limelight in the mid-90s when much-loved breaststroker Samantha Riley went to the Atlanta Olympics under a drugs cloud. Riley was exonerated after her coach Scott Volkers admitted to giving her a headache tablet that contained the banned substance -  a near-escape.

But it's not just in the pool the problems have come. Australian swimming is far from squeaky clean and despite an effort to clean things up when a review followed the London Olympics, the stench of bad behaviour fills the air and has for some years.

Australians love to take pot shots at other sports stars (think of a couple of our current male tennis players as an example) but perhaps it is swimming that needs to clean up its act.

Outside of the pool the sport has been plagued by scandals that would see crisis headlines written for other codes.

Almost every major event, whether it be the Olympics or world titles, Australian swimmers act out and land in trouble in the lead up to, at or after the event.

Sure, it's not every swimmer - but it's also surely time for Swimming Australia to draw a line in the sand and clean up the image of the sport.

The cover-ups must stop. Sending Jack home for what were said to be "personal reasons" before her failed drug test was uncovered was sadly par for the course for an organisation that acted similarly at the 2012 London Olympics when the  "Stilnox Six"  went on their mini-rampage.

Eamon Sullivan had his own moment along with teammates in London.
Eamon Sullivan had his own moment along with teammates in London.

It was supposed to be the low point for Australian swimming as Eamon Sullivan, Matt Targett, James Magnussen, James Roberts, Tommaso D'Orsogna and Cameron McEvoy engaged in a controversial bonding session before the Olympics, which involved taking the sleeping drug Stilnox.

Their penalty - aside from the public shame of being busted annoying their female teammates with "boorish and obnoxious" behaviour, which stopped just short of sexual harassment - was a dressing down, and according to then AOC chief John Coates a "very serious three-year good behaviour bond".

It was hardly the first time an Australian swimmer had a problem with prescription drugs. Olympic champion Grant Hackett was the poster boy for gold in the pool alongside Ian Thorpe for a generation, but his own demons and issues with Stilnox brought him undone.

Grant Hackett appears at a court in Melbourne.
Grant Hackett appears at a court in Melbourne.

Hackett took issue with former coach Denis Cotterell saying Hackett and Sun were "as clean as each other".

"I would call myself cleaner than Sun, absolutely, I've never failed a drug test. I've even had five drug tests in three days once - and I've never had a single issue; my track record in comparison to Sun's is very different," Hackett told 2GB.

"I certainly wouldn't compare myself to Sun at any point in time. I wouldn't make a direct comparison to anything that relates to­ ­performance-enhancing drugs (between me and Sun)."

That might have been the case when it came to PEDs, but out of the pool Hackett had serious issues.

He went to rehab and seems to have cleaned up his act since, but that was all after destroying a room, flipping a grand piano, punching holes in a wall and being caught stumbling around on CCTV in a towel in a nasty episode in 2011.

Years later he accused his brother Craig of giving him a black eye, in an infamous Instagram post.

Certainly Hackett was no worse than former butterfly star Nick D'Arcy, who had his Olympic dream scuppered before the 2008 Beijing Games over an assault on fellow swimmer Simon Cowley.

D'Arcy was later sued over the incident for damages, and lost, but in 2012 he was still permitted to take part in the London Olympics, where he bombed out in the semi-finals before retiring.

Nick D'Arcy still got to swim after being charged with assault.
Nick D'Arcy still got to swim after being charged with assault.

Outside of the realms of violence, you can add theft, when original golden girl Dawn Fraser, all the way back in 1965 stole flags from Japan's Imperial Palace - it was a supposed act of larrikinism.

Even modern-day golden girl Stephanie Rice had a moment in 2010 when she tweeted then deleted a derogatory gay slur of "suck on that fa**ots" after the Wallabies beat South Africa in 2010.

It's in many ways a sad footnote on a sport that we have been so good at over the years and a reminder that even though our swimmers are among the world's best in the pool they and Swimming Australia may just need to check that "holier than thou" attitude at the door.

Continue the conversation with Paul Johnson @pjohnson_sports on Twitter.

News Corp Australia

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