Olympic chief defends Nick D'Arcy

SYDNEY -- Australian Olympic Committee president John Coates defended the selection of swimmer Nick D'Arcy for the London Olympics amid accusations of a secret deal to put him on the team.

D'Arcy, regarded as a strong medal contender in the 200-meter butterfly, missed the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2009 Rome world championships after being convicted of assaulting former swimmer Simon Cowley in a Sydney bar in March 2008.

D'Arcy was ordered to pay $370,000 in damages and costs, but declared bankruptcy.

Cowley, whose face had to be surgically rebuilt after the assault, said in a report in several Australian newspapers on Saturday that Swimming Australia was involved in a secret deal to allow D'Arcy back into the team despite ethical concerns.

"There was no deal done with anyone about anything as far as I was concerned," Swimming Australia president David Urquhart said Saturday. "Any deals that were to be done have to come to the board of Swimming Australia, and that never happened."

Coates said the AOC selection committee had received legal advice that D'Arcy's bankruptcy did not constitute bringing him into disrepute under the terms of the team agreement.

"We are satisfied that he has learnt his lesson and he understands the standards required to be a member of our team," Coates said.

D'Arcy was selected for his Olympic debut following the Olympic trials at Adelaide in March. His time of 1 minute, 54.71 seconds in the 200 butterfly was just outside his own Australian record.

The time was better than the 1:55.43 that Michael Phelps, who won eight gold medals at Beijing, posted as the world's best of 2012 at that time.

Meanwhile, Coates said the AOC was still discussing whether or not to accept sponsorship from betting agencies, amid concern it would conflict with attempts to stamp out illegal gambling in sport.

"The hypocrisy of suddenly putting our hand out and doing an agreement is something that bothers a number of us," Coates said. "It's not going to break the AOC's bank to decline or wait."