Commonwealth Games 2022 Birmingham: Australian swimmer Isaac Cooper sent home for ‘medication use’


Just a week out from the start of the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, teenage sensation Isaac Cooper has been sent home for a disciplinary breach involving his ‘use of medication’, according to Swimming Australia. 

The 18-year-old had a stellar National Championships earlier this year, including gold in the 50 and 100-metre backstroke.

Cooper had been set to make his Games debut in four events – the two aforementioned backstroke races, 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle.

Isaac Cooper after finishing third in the 50m backstroke semi final at the 2022 World Championships in Bupadest, Hungary

Isaac Cooper after setting a National Record in the 50 metre backstroke at the 2022 Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide earlier this year

Isaac Cooper after setting a National Record in the 50 metre backstroke at the 2022 Australian Swimming Championships in Adelaide earlier this year

Swimming Australia (SA) announcemed Cooper had been sent home on Wednesday from the Dolphins’ pre-Games training camp in France. 

‘Cooper has been sent home from the Dolphins training camp following some wellbeing challenges, including the use of medication,’ Swimming Australia said in a statement.

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

Isaac Cooper competes in a medley relay during the 2022 World Championships

Isaac Cooper competes in a medley relay during the 2022 World Championships

Cooper, who competed in the 100 metre backstroke and 4 x 100m mixed medley relay at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics last year, was expected to compete for medals in Birmingham.

The teenager broke the National Record for the 50m backstroke at the National Championships at the Adelaide in May, with a sizzling 24.44.

He also came first in the 100m backstroke, with a third placings in the 50m butterfly and 50m freestyle.

He won a bronze medal in Tokyo for his part in the mixed medley relay, and promisingly finished eighth in the 50m backstroke at the World Championships in Bupadest last month.  

Isaac Cooper with fellow Swimming Australia team members, including Emma McKeon

Isaac Cooper with fellow Swimming Australia team members, including Emma McKeon

Swimming Australia has reportedly denied there has been any sort of repeat of the infamous Stilnox incident at the 2012 London Olympics.

The ‘Stilnox Six’: Eamon Sullivan, James Magnussen, Matt Targett, James Roberts, Tommaso D’Orsogna and Cameron McEvoy took part in a bonding session involving the prescription sleeping pill and were disciplined by Swimming Australia.

During the bonding session they also played pranks on fellow swimmers, something they described as ‘childish’ and ‘stupid’ at the time.

James Magnussen, admitted to taking stilnox at the 2012 London Olympics as part of a team bonding session with five other swim team members

James Magnussen, admitted to taking stilnox at the 2012 London Olympics as part of a team bonding session with five other swim team members

It had been an unhappy Olympics for the swim team, with a report commissioned after the disaster saying a ‘toxic’ team culture had developed.

‘Swimmers described these games as the ‘Lonely Olympics’ and the ‘Individual Olympics’,’ the 2013 report said. 

There were enough culturally toxic incidents across enough team members that breached agreements (such as getting drunk, misuse of prescription drugs, breaching curfews, deceit, bullying) to warrant a strong, collective leadership response that included coaches, staff and the swimmers.’

‘No such collective action was taken,’ said the scathing review.

Eamon Sullivan was one of the swimming sextet dubbed the 'stilnox six' at the 2021 Games

Eamon Sullivan was one of the swimming sextet dubbed the ‘stilnox six’ at the 2021 Games

Swimming, and its reputation, has enjoyed a renaissance of sorts over the last few years. 

The Australian Dolphins swim team nabbed nine gold, three silver and eight bronze medals at the Tokyo Olympics last year 

At the time, two-time Olympic gold medallist Kieran Perkins, who is now president of Swimming Australia, said he was proud of how far the team had come.

‘There’s no doubt that it’s a beautiful point that shows that, broadly, swimming’s in a great place at the moment,’ he told WWOS.

‘One of the things that has been a real fixture of the current group is just how much they respect each other and the trust they place in each other.’ 

Aussie swimming legend Kieren Perkins believes the team's culture has come a long way

Aussie swimming legend Kieren Perkins believes the team’s culture has come a long way

The organisation made it perfectly clear the bar was high when it came to representing Australia at the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

‘The welfare of our athletes remains our absolute priority,’ said Swimming Australia.

‘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.’

The Commonwealth Games start on July 28, with swimming events to run until August 8.

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