Don't sway or ramble, Australia's Sochi team warned

Tue Nov 19, 2013 9:53am EST

An employee arranges medals for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games during a presentation for the public at a jewellery shop in St. Petersburg September 19, 2013. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

An employee arranges medals for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games during a presentation for the public at a jewellery shop in St. Petersburg September 19, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk

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(Reuters) - Woe betide any Australian athlete over-indulging in Russian hospitality in Sochi next year after the country's Olympic Committee said "swaying or having rambling conversations" could lead to an early flight home.

Clarifying stringent new rules on behavior, the AOC said drinking alcohol would be permitted outside the Olympic Village but left athletes in no doubt about their conduct, saying they could be kicked out if there is any repeat of the behavior issues that plagued the Australian team at the London Olympics.

"Team members are permitted to consume alcohol responsibly," a statement said, before listing a range of behavior that would be frowned upon.

Being disorderly or argumentative, being bad tempered, swaying or falling down, talking boisterously, having rambling conversations and annoying fellow team members would all result in possible disciplinary action, it said.

No alcohol will be permitted in the Olympic Village or on the return flight to Australia following the Games.

Ian Chesterman, Australia's Chef de Mission for the Sochi Olympics next February, welcomed the new guidelines.

"Our goal as a team is to go to Sochi, perform at our best and represent our country with distinction," Chesterman said in a statement.

FIERCE BACKLASH

"The new rules relating to alcohol are designed to allow each athlete the environment to prepare and perform at their best. I fully expect our team will buy into this culture of excellence."

Australia slumped to its lowest medal haul in 20 years at the London Games, sparking a fierce backlash from Australian media pundits who accused the team of wasting taxpayer money and being more focused on partying than success.

Members of Australia's swim team were criticized for drunkenness in an independent review, and the Australians were also embarrassed by rower Josh Booth who was detained by police for damaging shop windows after a drinking session.

While athletes will be allowed to celebrate their performances with a beer or two, Australia's Chef de Mission for Rio in 2016, Kitty Chiller, said "irresponsible" consumption of alcohol would not be tolerated.

"This is totally about respect for the Coat of Arms that we wear," Chiller said in a statement.

"It's about respect for the green and gold. It's about respect for the Olympians of decades past and the great reputation they have built for us.

"It's about respecting all the tradition and history and most of all it's about respecting their fellow team members."

"This is not a knee-jerk reaction to London. This is about moving forward with an even greater high performance environment designed for success," she added.

Australian sport had to deal with more alcohol-related problems this week when six players were suspended for breaking drinking rules before their match against Ireland last week in a rugby union international.

They will all miss Saturday's game against Scotland.

(Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Ossian Shine)

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