Australian swimming must regain the respect of the nation before looking at winning gold medals, the sport’s governing body says.
Swimming Australia president Barclay Nettlefold says two reviews, released yesterday, make it a challenging time for the sport.
‘‘Before we look at winning gold medals, we want to win back the admiration of the nation, and we want to engage with our swimming community like never before at every level,’’ Nettlefold said.
Swimming’s governing body released two independent reviews into Australia’s poor campaign at the London Olympics, which returned the fewest medals in two decades.
One review cited a toxic culture and lack of leadership as reasons for the failure, while the other made 35 recommendations to improve the sport.
Swimming Australia’s initial response was to create an integrity panel to examine recommendations from both reviews.
‘‘We know sport is a challenging environment by nature and there is no doubt this has been a challenging time for all of us,’’ Nettlefold said.
‘‘It has been a time of reflection and review and a time to be honest and open about how we can make the right steps towards future success.’’
The governing body would implement a 100-day plan to address the recommendations of both reviews, he said.
‘‘The underlying message from these two reviews is that we all have to be accountable for the future success of swimming in Australia and that starts with discipline and setting the right standards of behaviour from the top down,’’ Nettlefold said.
‘‘The establishment of an integrity panel will look at specific incidents discussed in the reviews and address them in isolation.’’
One review was the Bluestone Review, examining culture and leadership in Australia’s swim team at the London Games.
The other review, the Independent Review of Swimming, was commissioned by the Swimming Australia board in conjunction with the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) and examined the design and delivery of the sport’s high performance program.
ASC chairman John Wylie said he was heartened by the review.
‘‘I’m encouraged by the thorough analysis of the issues which have confronted swimming,’’ he said.
‘‘Common themes in this report create opportunities for all sports to benefit from lessons learned.’’
The Australian Olympic Committee could withhold funding from swimmers found guilty of breaching team agreements, London Games chef de mission Nick Green said yesterday.
Green was speaking in the wake of the two reports.
He said each case would be looked at individually, but sanctions such as withdrawal of funding could be applied if team agreements were breached.
Green welcomed the reports and said if athletes were found to have misbehaved or misused prescription drugs, they would be sanctioned.
‘‘One possible sanction is a funding source – we have a medal incentive for funding for athletes and that is a possible sanction,’’ Green said.
‘‘Every athlete who signed the agreement, we expect the highest standard of behaviour from.’’
Green rejected a suggestion in the report that there was a ‘‘toxic culture’’ among swimmers in London but agreed that there were leadership problems.
‘‘The swimming team like all of our 410 athletes had a great approach,’’ he said.
But Green agreed that there were administrative issues that had been lax.
‘‘The culture obviously needs addressing and through Swimming Australia there’s recommendations that they’ll try to change that.’’