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Swimming Australia loses major sponsor in wake of controversies

Energy Australia has opted to end its partnership with Swimming Australia after a series of controversies surrounding the governing body were revealed, according to the Courier Mail newspaper.

The energy company had signed a five-year agreement in February 2012, a deal believed to increase in value each year to a total of around A$8m (€6m/$7.8m) by the conclusion of the partnership in 2017. However, the ongoing controversies surrounding the governing body has led Energy Australia to terminate the partnership early.

The decision comes just days after Swimming Australia’s president, Barclay Nettlefold, resigned over allegations of “inappropriate” behaviour. He is currently being investigated over claims he made an inappropriate remark to a female team consultant, in addition to another allegation of misbehaviour.

The governing body has also had to face critical reviews of its governance and a scandal that involved two of its top swimmers taking banned substances in a team bonding session during the run up to the London 2012 Olympic Games. The Australian team also performed below par at the Games, recording just a single gold medal in the pool – its lowest tally in 20 years.

Mark Anderson, Swimming Australia chief executive, said in a statement: “This is a difficult time for Swimming Australia and we recognise there are no easy solutions. Firstly, Barclay Nettlefold resigned as president of Swimming Australia at the weekend. Now a major sponsor has withdrawn its support from Swimming Australia. This is obviously disappointing but we respect the decision.”

He added: “The sport of swimming has been rebuilding since London. There is much to do. 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."