Surf Life Saving Australia is in damage control mode after revelations police are investigating allegations of drug use and a possible sexual assault during this month's world championships in Adelaide.
South Australian police are examining claims that members of the host's title-winning under-20s squad used cocaine and were involved in an unlawful assault when Rescue 2012, the sport's biennial showpiece, was held in the city from November 7-18.
Six members of Australia's under-20s surf team have been suspended by the national body and could face criminal charges after SLSA was made aware of what it describes as "allegations of illicit drug use and possible unlawful assault".
SLSA chief executive Brett Williamson told News Ltd that three members of an overseas team are also part of the inquiry into the alleged assault.
New Zealand competitors are not involved but Surf Live Saving New Zealand issued a brief statement saying they were "watching developments with interest."
If the Australians are stripped of their title, the second-placed New Zealanders could stand to inherit it.
SLSA president Graham Ford has notified the International Surf Lifesaving Federation about the allegations and the Australia's Sports Anti-Doping Agency has also been briefed because cocaine is on its banned drug list.
Williamson told The Daily Telegraph the a three-member SLSA judicial panel would determine if there were any code of conduct breaches when it convenes on December 14.
"These are serious allegations which warrant immediate, prompt, objective assessment. We're going through that process right now," Williams said, who added the allegations were obviously harmful for the sport.
"It's damaging, but it would be far more damaging if we were to be seen to be not taking this matter seriously."
Athletes from 40 countries were among the 3900 that took part in the international team competitions and then inter-club events.
New Zealand won the senior team's title for the first time since the championships were held in Auckland in 1998.
- Fairfax Media