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Sports News

Olympics - Australia kicks D'Arcy off Beijing swim team

SYDNEY (Reuters) - The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has voted to kick swimmer Nick D’Arcy off the team for Beijing for his role in a nightclub brawl that left a former competitor with serious facial injuries.

File photo of Australia's Nick D'Arcy at an event in Sydney March 24, 2008. The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) has voted to kick D'Arcy off the team for Beijing for his role in a nightclub brawl that left a former competitor with serious facial injuries. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz/Files

The AOC executive board on Wednesday unanimously backed the original decision of its president, John Coates, that D’Arcy had brought the sport into disrepute after he was charged over an alleged assault in March.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) had ordered the AOC to reopen the case because they had not followed correct procedures when banning him from this year’s Olympics, but they reached the same decision.

“The effect that Nicholas D’Arcy’s conduct had on his reputation, as found by the president and confirmed by the CAS, was the basis for the decision by the AOC Executive,” AOC vice president Ron Harvey said in a statement.

“The Australian Olympic Committee is proud of the excellent standards and conduct of past and present Olympians and in the eyes of the Australian public we have an obligation to protect that reputation.

“To terminate the membership of an athlete on the Australian Olympic Team is a very serious matter. After careful consideration we have reached a decision based on that responsibility.”

D’Arcy was initially thrown off the team in April after a brawl at a nightclub left former Commonwealth Games champion Simon Cowley with a broken jaw and nose, fractured eye socket, crushed cheekbone and fractured palate.

APPEAL

D’Arcy, a university student, had been celebrating his inclusion in the team in the 100 and 200 metres butterfly for Beijing when a fight broke out.

He was charged by police and is due to face a Sydney court later this month. D’Arcy maintains his innocence and vowed to fight the charges. Public opinion is deeply divided on whether or not he should be allowed to compete.

D’Arcy, who had argued he was a fit and proper person to represent Australia at Beijing, said the saga was a long way from being finished.

“I’m very disappointed by today’s decision (but) I can’t say it was a surprising decision,” he told reporters.

“However I am lodging an appeal. It’s already been put in the works in preparation for today’s decision.

“That will be my final port of call. Obviously I’ll continue to train until every last option has been exhausted.”

The AOC excluded him from the Olympic team after carrying out a separate investigation, prompting D’Arcy to lodge his initial appeal.

His lawyers said that he had acted in self defence after Cowley had slapped him in the face.

Darcy’s legal team also argued that the AOC had been inconsistent in their ruling because they had allowed an Australian boxer to compete at the 2004 Olympics while he was on bail facing serious assault charges.

CAS agreed that D’Arcy had brought himself into disrepute through his behaviour but ordered the AOC to reopen the case because Coates did not have the authority to exclude him from the team.

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