SUNSHINE Coast Olympian Nick D'Arcy has defended the actions of his swimming teammates who have become embroiled in a controversy over their bad behaviour at the London Olympics.
D'arcy, who has had his own much-publicised run-ins with authority, said while he didn't condone the behaviour of members of the men's 4x100m relay team, he believed they were only trying to "form a special bond" as a team.
James Magnussen, Eamon Sullivan, Tommaso D'Orsogna, James Roberts, Matt Targett and Cameron McEvoy are being investigated by Swimming Australia's integrity panel.
They have admitted to taking the recently-prohibited sedative Stilnox and playing pranks on team members in the London Games village.
D'Arcy, who has taken a year off swimming to focus on a career as a radiographer in Brisbane, said he did not condone his teammates' actions but believed they had simply been trying to "form a special bond to take their relay team to the next level".
"If anything, they were doing the best for their country by bonding and allowing them to get the absolute best out of each other," he said.
"I don't believe they wanted to impede on their preparations and they are not selfish guys, so they would not want to become a team at the expense of others.
"It was misdirection more than anything else."
In a statement read out by Australian Swimmers Association spokesman Daniel Kowalski on behalf of the swimmers, they claimed to have participated in what they thought was "harmless fun", where they "sat around the hotel room telling stories, laughing, bonding ..."
It was conceded that at some point, "some team members left the room and decided to make prank calls to random rooms and did knock on the doors of some of our team mates but at no time did we ever feel it was anything more than childish behaviour and there was definitely nothing untoward in our actions".
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Just young people letting off steam
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Stilnox had been commonly used in swimming circles to reduce anxiety and give athletes a good night's rest.
The prescription medication was recently banned by the Australian Olympic Committee.
D'Arcy said he had been prescribed Stilnox in the past but it made him feel "groggy and a little unwell", so he chose not to use it again.
Media claims that the Olympic swimming team environment in London was "toxic" had been "inflammatory" to the situation.
"If anything, now we've got a toxic environment where swimmers are pitted against swimmers and that is not something we usually see with the Australian swim team," he said.
"(The team) had a better chance of being salvaged before the witch hunt.
"The whole team have their work cut out for them to get back to that united front where they can all move in the same direction and be a single entity."
But he said he was confident his embattled former teammates would come out the other side of the incident as a stronger team.
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