BREAKING NEWS
Three people killed in restaurant fire in Waimate, South Canterbury ... Read more
Close

Oz swimming 'drugs, alcohol, bullying' culture

Last updated 14:56 19/02/2013

Relevant offers

Other Sports

Olympic triathlon is 'biggest race ever' for Andrea Hewitt Kiwi Olympic officials confident Rio can deliver on Games promise Twice denied gold, Australia race walker feels 'let down' by IAAF Secrecy surrounds identity of red-carded Canterbury hockey player Joseph Parker says Kali Meehan's size, experience will test world title aspirations Surf star Mick Fanning donates $83,000 TV fee to fellow shark attack survivor Veteran Kali Meehan confirmed as Joseph Parker's next opponent in Auckland bout Outgoing IAAF president Lamine Diack hits back at 'joke' mass doping allegations AFL star Adam Goodes set to return for Sydney Swans against Geelong Cats Lauren Boyle qualifies for 1500m freestyle final at swimming world championships

Australia's swimming team was devoid of leadership at the London Olympics.

The result was that bad behaviour went unchecked, individualism thrived, and London was remembered by many as the unpleasant "Lonely Olympics".

In a warts-and-all review of culture and leadership in Australian Olympic Swimming, Doctor Pippa Grange paints a grim picture of the hierarchy of Swimming Australia and the unit that competed at the Games seven months ago.

"At its least attractive, the team dynamic became like a schoolyard clamour for attention and influence," she reports.

"Although few situations relating to London reported through this review were truly grave in nature, they compounded in significance as no one reigned in control.

"There were enough culturally toxic incidents across enough team members that breached agreements (such as getting drunk, misuse of prescription drugs, breaching curfews, deceit, bullying) to warrant a strong, collective leadership response that included coaches, staff and the swimmers. No such collective action was taken.''

Dr Grange, who has worked with several AFL football clubs, the AFL Players Association and now runs her own culture and leadership consultancy business, was employed by Swimming Australia to undertake the review.

Among her six recommendations to address the organisation's seemingly deplorable leadership, Dr Grange describes the ''dire need to develop and enable leadership throughout swimming, and to orient people to consider leadership as personal, not just functional''.

In the pursuit of gold medals in London, Dr Grange reports ''the 'science' of winning appeared to whitewash the 'art' of leadership''. There was no sport psychologist with the swim team for the London Games.

Dr Grange refers to "the absence of a leadership voice from Swimming Australia", which was run by CEO Kevin Neil who has stepped down from the position.

"Some review respondents have suggested that ... the outcome was an increase in individualism, and in turn a diminished sense of responsibility or connectedness to the team," Dr Grange reports.

"The formation of sub-groups was already likely in a team of this size, but fragmentation was compounded in the absence of familiarity and sufficient opportunities to connect formally and socially."

Dr Grange's six recommendations on standards and accountability include that Swimming Australia "create an 'ethical framework' ... about what the organisation, team and individuals within it will stand for and what they will not stand for."

Ad Feedback

She says Swimming Australia should invest in a 'coach-the-coach' leadership program for the head coach of the team, and that codes of conduct for swimmers, coaches and staff need updating.

Australian swimmers produced the worst Olympic result in London since Barcelona in 1992, returning with just one gold medal from a tally of 10 medals overall.

- Sydney Morning Herald

Special offers
Opinion poll

Will Shane Cameron beat Kali Meehan on Saturday?

For sure. Cameron will knock him out.

It will be close but I think Cameron on points.

Meehan will knock him out. This is his last fight.

I'm tipping Meehan to win on points.

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content