Axed Aussie swimmer breaks silence on Commonwealth Games scandal

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·Sports Reporter
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Isaac Cooper says he will focus on his mental health after being dropped from the Commonwealth Games team. (Photo by BRENTON EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images)
Isaac Cooper says he will focus on his mental health after being dropped from the Commonwealth Games team. (Photo by BRENTON EDWARDS/AFP via Getty Images)

Isaac Cooper has spoken out for the first time after being sent home from a Commonwealth Games training camp in France for disciplinary reasons relating to the use of medication.

The teenager had been set to make his Commonwealth Games debut in Birmingham later this month, however Swimming Australia announced on Wednesday that Cooper would no longer be taking part.

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Cooper won a bronze medal with Australia's 4x100m medley relay and has been viewed as a potential star of the sport in future, however his absence from the Commonwealth Games will prove to be a setback.

The 18-year-old made his first public comments about the incident on Friday after arriving back in Australia.

In a post on Instagram, Cooper said the decision to send him home had been made in his own best interests.

“I’ve had to undergo a lot of self-reflection and examination,” he wrote.

“The decision made to send me home was based on my behaviour and mental health and was made in my best interest and that of the team competing at the Commonwealth Games.

“My misuse of medication was not banned substances. It was ultimately my wellbeing and mental health that resulted in me going home.

“It was difficult to accept in myself that I needed to address my mental health, but I believe that it is an ever present issue in all communities, including that of a professional athlete.

"I am grateful to Swimming Australia for helping to identify an issue and offering their support and resources to help me.”

The Queenslander had been due to compete in the 50m freestyle, backstroke and butterfly, as well as the 100m backstroke.

Cooper also competed in the 100m backstroke at last year's Olympics, where he finished 12th overall.

Swimming Australia bombshell after Isaac Cooper sent home

In a statement earlier this week, Swimming Australia said prioritising the heath of their athletes was paramount.

It was their concern for Cooper's wellbeing that was behind the decision to send him home from France.

"Cooper has been sent home from the Dolphins training camp following some wellbeing challenges, including the use of medication," the statement read.

"He has acknowledged his mistakes and accepted the consequences, and Swimming Australia will continue to support him as he addresses these challenges.

"The welfare of our athletes remains our absolute priority.

"Swimming Australia is vigilant in educating athletes of their obligations under the National Integrity Framework and will continue to provide all necessary support to ensure they uphold the highest standards and behaviours when representing Australia."

Isaac Cooper helped Australia to 4x100 medley relay gold at the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
Isaac Cooper helped Australia to 4x100 medley relay gold at the Tokyo Olympics. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Cooper has now departed Chartres, where he had been for the past week with the rest of the Aussie swim team ahead of arriving in Birmingham next week.

A Swimming Australia spokesman told AAP the sedative Stilnox was "categorically" not the misused substance.

Scandal erupted before the 2012 Olympics in London when six Australian swimmers - Eamon Sullivan, Matt Targett, James Magnussen, James Roberts, Tommaso D'Orsogna and Cameron McEvoy - were sanctioned over the use of Stilnox at a bonding session.

All but Roberts admitted abusing Stilnox, a sleeping medication which had been banned by the Australian Olympic Committee.

The six swimmers were later fined and given deferred suspensions by SA.

With AAP

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