SYDNEY, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Nick D‘Arcy believes his fellow swimmers have to take responsibility for Australia’s disappointment in the London Olympic pool last year rather than blaming coaches and team management.
The controversial 25-year-old, who swam well outside his personal best to crash out of the 200 metres butterfly in the semi-finals in London, said the review of team culture released on Tuesday was deliberately inflammatory.
The Bluestone review said team management had failed to prevent a “toxic culture” from developing in the swimming squad, which produced Australia’s worst Olympic results in 20 years.
The review said abuse of alcohol and prescription drugs, as well as flouting of curfews and bullying, had gone unchecked and contributed to the underperformance.
“Some of things outlined there were designed to be inflammatory more than anything else,” D‘Arcy told Triple M radio on Wednesday.
“I think we’re just trying to look for excuses and trying to pass the buck. I certainly didn’t perform the way I would have liked to. I take full personal responsibility for that.”
D‘Arcy is no stranger to controversy having been expelled from the team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics for attacking a team mate in a bar and breaking his jaw, nose and eye socket.
After some outcry, he was allowed to swim in London despite having declared himself bankrupt when his victim won A$180,000 ($186,300) in compensation in a civil case in 2011.
He was also forced to leave the London Olympic village straight after his event last year as punishment for posing with firearms and posting the pictures on social media in the run-up to the Games.
Nevertheless, he said he thought the barrage of criticism aimed at head coach Leigh Nugent since the Bluestone review and another independent review with a wider remit were published on Tuesday was misplaced.
“Leigh Nugent did a wonderful job. He was always there to support and offer guidance to athletes,” he said.
”He did his best to put together training programmes and keep them fairly flexible.
“I think that the framework was there for us. We just didn’t come through on the day.”
D‘Arcy said allegations of bullying had to be taken in the context of what had always been an intense environment.
“When you get that number of boys together, you are going to have that little bit of friction especially in that sport - they’re all kind of alpha males and those kinds of strong personalities,” he added.
”So you’re going to get a little bit of friction and it’s the same on every team I’ve been on since I was 19.
“There’s always been a difference of opinion and you have people trying to come on top of other people but to say that that’s new and to say that’s the reason why we didn’t perform, I think is very misguiding.” ($1 = 0.9662 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Peter Rutherford)