Swimmers forced to explain

WA Olympic swimmers Eamon Sullivan and Tommaso D'Orsogna will face a press conference with their teammates today to explain their role in a controversial team bonding session before the London Games.

All six members of the men's 100m freestyle relay team, which included James Magnussen, James Roberts, Matt Targett and Cameron McEvoy, will confront reports they took part in an initiation involving the banned sleeping drug Stilnox during a pre-Games camp in Manchester in July.

Seven News reported last night the swimmers took excessive amounts of the insomnia drug along with stimulants Red Bull and Coca-Cola before going on a rampage through the team hotel.

The teammates, who finished fourth in their London final despite qualifying fastest, will be joined at a Sydney press conference by Swimming Australia president Barclay Nettlefold and Australian Swimmers Association chief executive Daniel Kowalski.

"Swimming Australia can confirm that the six members of the men's relay team have come forward to discuss their involvement in a team bonding session in Manchester prior to arriving in the Olympic Village," Swimming Australia said in a statement.

Allegations of pranks and misbehaviour in Manchester emerged after the swim team's worst Olympic performance in two decades and came to a head this week following two damning reports into the team's "toxic" culture.

The independent Bluestone review found bullying, misuse of prescription drugs and a lack of leadership contributed to the disappointing performance in London.

A separate investigation by the Australian Sports Commission raised concerns about mistrust, poor behaviour and increased financial dependence on government funding. Head coach Leigh Nugent admitted this week he regretted not pursuing "childish behaviour" in Manchester, days before the Olympics, including prank calls and door-knocking.

"In hindsight it probably should have raised alarm bells. My regret now is I didn't follow it up," he said.

Stilnox was banned before the London Games and any athletes found to have taken it face sanctions from the Australian Olympic Committee.

Swimming Australia also announced yesterday that former Australian Rugby Union chairman Peter McGrath will head an integrity panel in the wake of the damning reviews. "We will be decisive, we will be firm and we will discipline athletes, coaches and staff accordingly, where such action is deemed appropriate and necessary," Mr Nettlefold said.

"We want to stop talking about rumour and act on the facts of what did or did not actually occur."

D'Orsogna, 22, who is based in Canberra, admitted in September there had been a "lack of cohesion" within the Olympic team. He also referred to "schoolboy" antics.

D'Orsogna and Sullivan did not return calls yesterday.

The West Australian

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