The SportingJournal

Swimming shame game gone too far

James Magnussen with 100m Freestyle Silver medal Credit: Clive Rose/Getty

James Magnussen with 100m Freestyle Silver medal Credit: Clive Rose/Getty

When Australia’s Olympic athletes failed to impress the public and media with their performance at the London Games, they became an easy target open to much scrutiny.

The scandal of the consumption of banned medication Stilnox provided a perfect opportunity to criticise them further.

The public are witnesses to the pressure the team was put under – during preparations, the swimming squad of young athletes (some first time Olympians) were praised and favoured all over the nation.

The media set the bar high for each athlete and burdened them with national pride.

On the night of the bonding session, each athlete had consumed one harmless tablet of Stilnox.

The athletes have since sincerely apologised for their actions and accepted that it was irresponsible.

Senior member of the team Eamon Sullivan said the medication had no affect on their performance.

“Stilnox has been used in the past to sleep in between finals and sets the next day and is out of your system in seven hours,” he said.

During a one-on-one interview, James Magnussen, labelled the “Missile”, shared his feelings of the unscrupulous amount of media attention on the event.

“I think the men’s relay team being accused is a very easy target,” he said.

“We were the favourites going into the Olympics and we didn’t perform, so people are looking for excuses for why.”

Media reports suggest that Stilnox may have been prescribed to a number of athletes in rugby league, rugby union, Australian Rules football and other professional sporting leagues, while Olympic gold medallist Grant Hackett has stated Stilnox was often prescribed to swimmers.

This much media attention and criticism over a tablet consumed for the relief of stress and anxiety is only harmful to the careers and confidence of these great athletes, in particular the relay team.

The Olympics is a big deal for Australians; we have a reputation for performing as one of the best, and praise our athletes and show our fanatical support.

Representing your country is an honour anyone would be privileged to have, but naturally it comes with immense pressure.

Being an Olympian, you are not performing for yourself only, but you are representing the hopes and dreams of a whole nation.

Olympic athletes know all of this and it is expected that they handle the pressure well.

However, this group of young men are merely young men.

An Olympic athlete is no Greek God. They, like every other young adult, can have the inability to see the consequences of a few small and irreversible mistakes.

We have experienced worse cases of the consumption of illegal drugs and scandals within the sporting world of Australia, which led to far worse consequences.

The outcome of the performance for these athletes was in no way a result of taking the medication; the only mistake they had made was using the wrong drug.

They owed Australia an apology, and confronted the situation with regret and acceptance.

It is now up to Australians to accept that apology and remember what these men represent and work for.

Showing our support will encourage them to be at their best in the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Scrutinising them further won’t.

By Ebru Halimoff

Twitter: @EbruHalimoff

Make sure you Follow @SportingJournl on Twitter for the latest Sports News & Opinion

  • Sumeyya Ilanbey

    Wonderful piece Ebru. I definitely agree: we can all make mistakes and being in front of the public eye doesn’t make you any immune to irreversible damages you might do.

  • Nathan Stanogias

    This is a very well written, coherent opinion piece. Good work, Ebru.



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