Five of Australia's six fastest men over 100 metres today confessed to abusing a prescription drug on the Australian Olympic Committee's list of banned substances.
Cameron McEvoy, Eamon Sullivan, James Magnussen, Matthew Targett, James Roberts and Tomaso D'Orsonga fronted a media conference in Sydney to explain what happpened during a bonding session just bsfore the London Olympics.
All but James Roberts conceded they'd taken the sleeping pill Stillnox.
The admissions come after two damning reports detailed a host of failings by Swimming Australia's leadership, revealing a quote - 'toxic culture' - within the squad that led to an unexpectedly weak performance at the London Games.
The AOC will engage an independent investigator to examine the findings of one of those reviews, and the behaviour of the swimmers.
But the boss of Swimming Australia is still backing the team's head coach - Leigh Nugent.
Correspondent: Martin Cuddihy
Speakers: James Magnussen, swimmer; Matthew Target, swimmer; Tommaso D'Orsogna, swimmer; Eamon Sullivan, swimmer; Barclay Nettlefold, president, Swimming Australia; Craig Phillips, general-secretary, Australian Olympic Committee
The AOC secretary general is Craig Phillips.
CRAIG PHILLIPS: Possible sanctions for breach of a team agreement might include withdrawing funding from the athletes concerned. The sanctions could extend to withdrawing funding, one, in the lead-up to the Rio Olympics in 2016.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: So who was in charge of these athletes?
The head coach of Swimming Australia is Leigh Nugent. He says he didn't know about the Stilnox but earlier this week admitted knowing about the misbehaviour.
Craig Phillips again.
CRAIG PHILLIPS: Without laying all the blame at Leigh's feet, I think the issue here is that there was some negligence in terms of the management. Also, if they were aware of these issues - and I'm not sure they were, we'll find that out - but if they were aware of these issues, they should have told us and we weren't told.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: Despite the unanswered questions, Swimming Australia president, Barclay Nettlefold is standing by Leigh Nugent.
(To Barclay Nettlefold) Given the way that Leigh Nugent has handled this, the fact that he changed his story, the fact that he didn't think there was anything to report, does he enjoy your full confidence?
BARCLAY NETTLEFOLD: Yes he does, he enjoys
MARTIN CUDDIHY: He enjoys your full confidence?
BARCLAY NETTLEFOLD: Absolutely.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: How can you give that to him?
BARCLAY NETTLEFOLD: I've come out openly and stated that Leigh Nugent is the head coach of Swimming Australia and I continue to say that to this day.
TIM PALMER: The president of Swimming Australia Barclay Nettlefold ending Martin Cuddihy''s report.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: From Olympic heroes to drug users. It's an extraordinary fall from grace.
Today the six members of the men's 4x100 metre relay team fronted a media conference to explain how a group bonding session went horribly wrong.
It was there five of the swimmers admitted to taking the insomnia treatment Stilnox. James Magnussen was the only member to give an explanation.
JAMES MAGNUSSEN: In my personal case, I think one of the reasons that I agreed to go along with this night was I was feeling under so much pressure and it had been building for the best part of a year, the chance to sort of bond with these guys and, you know, be normal for one night was, were my intentions of the night.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: The night started with a movie, and then dinner, and that's when talk turned to bonding sessions past.
Matthew Targett has been on relay teams before.
MATTHEW TARGETT: This wasn't premeditated in any way. This just started from a conversation at dinner and the initiation isn't formal at all. It's nothing that's been replicated. It just so happened on that night.
REPORTER: What was that conversation at dinner?
MATTHEW TARGETT: The conversation was about stories past, about what had happened, about how we felt
REPORTER: About initiations?
MATTHEW TARGETT: Not so much formal initiations. About stories of older teams and the teams we started on and stuff like that and what went on.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: Along with Targett, Eamon Sullivan is the most senior member of the squad. Both men had been prescribed Stilnox in Australia and supplied it to Tommaso D'Orsogna, Cameron McEvoy and James Magnussen.
It's on the AOC's list of banned substances.
The consequences did occur to Eamon Sullivan at the time.
EAMON SULLIVAN: It did cross my mind that it was a bad idea and for that I'm truly sorry and like I said, I'm not here to defend myself. I'm here to admit I made a bad decision and for that, you know, not showing that leadership I'm truly sorry.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: The men took the drug and then started making prank calls and knocking on the doors of some rooms where other athletes were sleeping.
James Magnussen again.
JAMES MAGNUSSEN: Yeah I still have a complete recollection of the night and I know what went on. You know, I think, like we said, it was just a bit of a relief from all the pressure and, you know, it just relaxed us a bit I guess and allowed us to share some stories and have a bit of fun.
But like I said, completely inappropriate.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: About 40 journalists spent nearly half an hour grilling the athletes about their motivations and subsequent regrets. As the media conference wore on, a pattern emerged.
EAMON SULLIVAN: It's easy to be smart in hindsight.
TOMMASO D'ORSOGNA: Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
JAMES MAGNUSSEN: In hindsight, a ridiculous choice and a ridiculous method to do that by.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: If those responses sound similar - listen again.
EAMON SULLIVAN: It was just a group decision.
TOMMASO D'ORSOGNA: Communal decision to take Stilnox.
JAMES MAGNUSSEN: As we said, it was a group decision and I'm not denying being part of this bonding session.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: Despite their coordinated and consistent responses, the scrutiny for these athletes doesn't end today.
The president of Swimming Australia, Barclay Nettlefold, was also at the media conference.
BARCLAY NETTLEFOLD: Swimming Australia have today announced that the men's 4x100 freestyle relay team will face the newly formed integrity panel, following their admission.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: The Australian Olympic Committee will also take action. A senior barrister will be engaged to investigate what happened.