SYDNEY (AFP) - Former Australian Olympic swimmer Geoff Huegill apologised on Tuesday after being charged with cocaine possession as he faced a professional backlash.
The two-time Olympic medallist and his wife were allegedly found with the illegal drug during a police raid on a glamorous horse-racing event in Sydney on Saturday.
"Some people feel that they have been let down and I deeply apologise for that," the 35-year-old told the Nine Network.
Huegill, an inspirational figure in Australian swimming after a comeback from retirement in which he shed a whopping 45kg over 18 months to win gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, is due to face court on May 14.
His brush with the law could cost him, with water safety body AustSwim suspending Huegill as an ambassador pending the outcome of his court case.
"However, if the allegations are proven then AustSwim's standards would not allow him to continue in his role as an AustSwim ambassador," it said.
One of his sponsors, Swisse, told reporters Huegill was used as part of a contract with Swimming Australia which ends in May.
But it said the company's decision not to renew the deal was unrelated to the latest incident.
"We notified Swimming Australia several weeks ago that we would not be renewing our partnership when the contract expired at the end of May," said Swisse CEO Radek Sali.
Another sponsor, Speedo, would not comment.
Huegill won bronze in the 100m butterfly and silver in the 4x100m medley relay at the Sydney 2000 Olympics but quit the sport soon after the Athens Games, where he finished eighth in the 100m fly final.
Six years after retiring, he made inspiring swims at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi to win silver in the 50m fly and gold in the 100m final.
He is the latest high-profile former swimmer facing unwanted time in the spotlight, after fellow Olympians Ian Thorpe and Grant Hackett both recently entered rehab.
Thorpe sought help for depression after a mixture of painkillers and anti-depressants left him disoriented on a Sydney street, while Hackett needed help for an addiction to sleeping pills.