World champion says reports of a “toxic” environment are off the mark despite Olympic scandals.
World 100m freestyle champion James Magnussen said Australia’s swimming scandals have been blown out of proportion and hopes he will be able to move on at this week’s national trials.
Magnussen, 22, was among six swimmers who were fined and handed deferred suspensions this month after admitting taking banned sleeping pills and playing pranks at a pre-London Olympics training camp last year.
The six-man 4x100m freestyle relay squad’s sanctions came at a time of administrative and team upheaval in the sport in Australia in the wake of a poor showing at the London Games.
Magnussen said reports of widespread cultural breakdown in Australia’s swim team in London were off the mark.
“I think a lot of it has been blown out of proportion,” Magnussen told reporters ahead of Friday’s world championship trials in Adelaide.
“There was a lot more team unity and friendship among the team than has been reported on.”
Magnussen said he was relieved to be returning to competition.
“It feels quite comfortable and quite good to be back around this environment,” he said.
“First and foremost, I’m a swimmer. I swim fast and that is what I do. That is where I feel comfortable, so it’s good to be back in this environment.”
He said he was not nervous about returning to a team environment after the fallout from the London Games, where Australia won just one gold medal in the pool in the bleakest Olympic swim campaign in two decades.
“I don’t think I have anything to prove to my teammates,” he said.
“I think I have got to prove it to myself first and then everyone else can follow — the public, the press, the rest of the team.
“I participated in all the due processes and I think that is behind us now.
“I think it’s really important for us as a swimming community, and absolutely myself in particular, to focus on the swimming now and put the results on the board and let people focus on the positives.”