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Aquatics | International

Australia axe coach of troubled relay team

Australia have axed the coach of their scandal-hit 4x100m freestyle relay team for the world championships as part of a wide-ranging shake-up after last year's Olympics flop, officials said on Friday.

John Fowlie, who oversaw a medal-less showing by the world champions in London, moves aside for Brant Best, coach of relay anchor man James Magnussen, Swimming Australia said.

Fowlie's demotion, ahead of the world championships in Barcelona in July, is the latest step of a rejig within Swimming Australia over the past six months, following Australia's worst Olympics swimming medal tally in 20 years.

A new administration and support team have been installed, the head coach is out and has not been replaced, government funding has been slashed and swimmers have been fined and threatened with suspension for poor behaviour.

Last year Fowlie was in charge of the men's sprint group that was favoured to win gold in London but missed a medal altogether, before being embroiled in a scandal over "bonding" practices involving a banned sleeping drug.

Six swimmers including Magnussen, the world 100m freestyle champion, were fined and slapped with deferred suspensions after admitting taking Stilnox and playing pranks at a pre-Olympics training camp.

Richard Scarce was appointed as Best's assistant, and head men's coach Rohan Taylor will provide support for the relay set-up, under a plan devised by new national team chief Michael Scott.

The men's sprint relay team includes five of the six men who came to grief in the Stilnox sedatives scandal. Fowlie, who coaches five-time London Olympics medallist Alicia Coutts, will work with the women's 4x100m medley relay team.

In other appointments, Denis Cotterell will guide the men's 4x200m freestyle relay team, while Simon Cusack takes over the women's 4x100m freestyle relay team, who are also defending a world title.


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