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Volume 10 No. 25


Leading officials "are bracing for further fallout from the Stilnox scandal" Monday in the wake of world 100m freestyle champion James Magnussen's decision to do a TV interview that aired Sunday night, according to Nicole Jeffery of THE AUSTRALIAN. Magnussen and his five teammates in the Australian 4x100m freestyle team "agreed last week to make a collective confession of their sins, admitting they had taken the banned prescription drug Stilnox as part of a 'bonding exercise.'" They issued a joint statement at a press conference on Friday acknowledging that "they took the hypnotic drug and some of them then engaged in misbehaviour, including prank calls and door-knocking, which disturbed their teammates at their pre-Olympic camp in Manchester," England (THE AUSTRALIAN, 2/25). In Brisbane, Todd Balym reported Magnussen's remarks "will be fiercely tested at swimming's integrity panel, with The Courier-Mail aware of at least one senior female willing to testify against the relay team's behaviour stemming from incidents just last month." She claims "to have been pushed out of an elevator by one of the relay men at a race meet in Perth and is aware of bullying of a teenage swimmer at an event camp on the Gold Coast, also last month" (COURIER-MAIL, 2/25). Also in Brisbane, Balym reported Australian swim team head coach Leigh Nugent "is a man in hiding." Attempts to reach Nugent, to explain his many failings as the leader of the London Olympic squad, "remain unreturned." Nugent "has not been sighted publicly since the damning reviews into Australian swimming were revealed this week and was a notable absentee when the men's relay team confessed their sins on Friday." It is believed that Nugent "is losing the support of his fellow coaches by the day" (COURIER-MAIL, 2/24).

Former judoka Kim Jung-haeng was elected as the Korean Olympic Committee’s next president on Friday "overcoming a stiff challenge" from Saenuri Party lawmaker and former table tennis star Elisa Lee, according to Jung Min-ho of the KOREA TIMES. The 69-year-old "earned 28 votes from 54 delegates to Lee’s 25 with one abstention" becoming the "first former athlete to head the country’s top sports administration body." Kim, who "previously ran unsuccessfully for the post" in '02 and '08, said that he "will focus on improving the welfare and competitive environments for athletes." Kim also stressed "increased exchanges with North Korea in the sporting realm and continuing the country’s efforts to host major international sporting events" despite growing criticism. The new KOC president also "promised balanced development between popular spectator sports and less watched sports." Kim: "We have to host international events for different sports, especially the ones that do not get much attention" (KOREA TIMES, 2/22).

Int'l Wrestling Federation interim President Nenad Lalovic said that wrestling needs to "overhaul its often mystifying rules while the sport seeks to retain its Olympic status," according to Nesha Starcevic of the AP.  Lalovic said that wrestling is "partly to blame" for the IOC's decision to drop the sport from 2020. He added that wrestling needs more "user-friendly rules that would benefit spectators, television and athletes." Lalovic, "If an Olympic champion of 20 years ago were to attend a wrestling tournament now, he probably could not tell what is going on. Wrestling has become a sport purely for experts. The rules have to be clearer and the sport more attractive and spectacular" (AP, 2/23).

The PTI reported cricket stars like Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag supporting squash's bid for inclusion in the 2020 Olympics "has left India's wrestling fraternity distraught." Cricketers' "open love for squash has hurt the sentiments" of Olympic medalists Sushil Kumar and Yogeshwar Dutt, who have asked the players to hold placards similar to "2020 Squash -- Back the bid", for wrestling. Kumar said, "How could they (cricketers) do this to us? We are going through a tough phase and these cricketing icons should support us in our bid to get back into the Olympic fold. Instead, they are supporting squash which is not so popular in the country" (PTI, 2/24).