Swimming: Aussies lose sponsor after scandal

SYDNEY (AFP) - Swimming Australia revealed on Wednesday that it had lost a major sponsor just days after its president quit over inappropriate remarks to a female team consultant.

Energy Australia confirmed to AFP that it had pulled out of its five-year sponsorship deal, but refused to comment on the reasons for its decision.

"I can confirm we have ended our sponsorship with Swimming Australia," a spokesman for Energy Australia said. The deal was believed to be worth at least A$2 million (S$2.4 million) a year, according to Australian Associated Press.

Barclay Nettlefold resigned as Swimming Australia president on Sunday after admitting to making comments inconsistent with the "standards expected of me" towards a female consultant.

He said while the comments were "made in jest", they were at odds with the culture he was trying to promote within swimming.

"This is a difficult time for Swimming Australia and we recognise there are no easy solutions," Swimming Australia chief executive Mark Anderson said in a statement.

"This is obviously disappointing but we respect the decision."

Anderson said the sport was rebuilding following the swim team's disappointing performance at the 2012 Olympics.

London was Australian swimming's first Games without an individual gold medal since the 1976 Montreal Olympics and its worst haul - of one gold, six silver and three bronze medals - since 1992 in Barcelona.

Two independent inquiries into what went wrong in London pointed to a squad lacking leadership and found "toxic" incidents such as drunkenness and bullying had gone unchecked.

Among the revelations were that members of the six-man 4x100m freestyle relay squad had taken sleeping pills banned by the Australian Olympic Committee and played pranks at a pre-Games training camp.

"We have made a number of cultural and governance changes but the events of the last few days have crystallised the need for further endemic organisational and cultural change," Anderson said.

"This process is well under way."

Since London, a new administration and support team have been installed, the head coach is out and has not been replaced, government funding has been slashed and swimmers have been fined and threatened with suspension for poor behaviour.