SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian swimmer Nick D’Arcy is facing expulsion from the Olympic team for Beijing after being arrested and charged with assault on former Commonwealth Games champion Simon Cowley.
Australian police released a statement on Monday confirming a 20-year-old man had been charged with two counts of assaults after an incident at a Sydney pub in the early hours of Sunday morning.
D’Arcy was among a group of Australian swimmers who were at the nightclub celebrating their selection in the Olympic team for Beijing after the completion of the national trials.
Local media reported that a fight broke out and Cowley was punched in the face, suffering serious injuries including a broken jaw, broken nose, fractured eyesocket, crushed cheekbone and fractured palate.
“The doctors were amazed what one punch could do,” Crowley’s father Peter told the Daily Telegraph.
D’Arcy, who had qualified for his first Olympics in 100 and 200 meters butterfly, was due to fly to Britain this week to compete in next month’s short-course world championships in Manchester.
But the Brisbane university student withdrew from the short-course team to consult his lawyers before being interviewed by police about the incident.
He appeared at a Sydney police station on Monday and police later released a statement saying they had laid assault charges, but did not name D’Arcy.
Swimming Australia and the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) had confirmed that they were carrying out their own investigation and were considering whether to charge D’Arcy with bringing the sport into disrepute and ban him from the Olympics.
“Swimming Australia is aware that swimmer Nick D’Arcy was involved in an incident in a Sydney nightclub early on Sunday morning that is now the subject of a NSW Police investigation,” Swimming Australia said a statement.
“Swimming Australia has begun its own internal investigation into the matter and will be assisting the NSW Police to gather further information.
“Swimming Australia will consider disciplinary action upon completion of the police investigation and its own internal inquiries.”
The incident has received huge media coverage in Australia after eight world records were set during last week’s national trials, raising expectations of a golden haul in Beijing.
While nightclub fights are commonplace in Australian football and rugby teams, they are rare in swimming.
“I think we take a lot of pride in the behavior of our athletes and I don’t think that one incident will take away from that,” Australia’s head swimming coach Alan Thompson said.
“Certainly I’m disappointed after such a great week, we were on a very big high, and it’s disappointing that an incident such as this occurs.”
Reporting by Julian Linden; Editing by Ed Osmond