Aussie swimmers to head home early

SYDNEY -- Australian swimmers Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk will be sent home from the London Olympics as soon as their events have finished as punishment for posting pictures of themselves posing with guns on social media sites.

An Australian Olympic Committee selection panel met Saturday to discuss the latest controversy involving the swimmers and decided on sanctions, which also include a ban on the pair using social media from July 16 to Aug 15.

The AOC's selection committee said in a statement that both athletes were guilty of bringing themselves into disrepute and were "repeat offenders who had shown poor judgment in their decision-making."

Nick Green, who is on the selection committee and will be chef de mission of the Australian team in London, sent a letter to each swimmer, saying: "Given this incident and our previous discussions concerning your conduct, I now have concerns regarding your lack of judgment.

"As I have reminded you on previous occasions ... Australian Olympians are required to meet very high standards of conduct and we cannot risk the reputation of the team through non-compliance with the Team Membership Agreement."

Other Australian swimmers will be allowed to stay in the village after completing their events, but D'Arcy and Monk will have to leave no later than Aug. 4. The London Games run July 27-Aug. 12, with the pool swimming program from July 28 to Aug. 4.

"We are prepared to allow them to compete but we have 400 other team members to consider and we are not going to have them distracted," Green said in the statement. "It is too big a risk."

The pair could yet face more sanctions, with a Swimming Australia investigation continuing.

The photo of Monk holding two pump-action shotguns and standing beside D'Arcy, who was smirking and holding a pistol in each hand, in a U.S gun shop spread quickly through social and traditional media Thursday, with one high-circulating tabloid taking to Twitter to ask: "Are you offended by this photograph of Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk in a US gun shop?"

Swimming Australia ordered the pair to remove the "inappropriate photos" immediately.

D'Arcy and Monk, both 24, apologized upon returning to Australia on Friday from a meet in California.

"It was all just meant to be a bit of fun, the photos were just a bit of fun," D'Arcy told reporters at Brisbane Airport. "If anyone's been offended I deeply apologize. It was never the intent, it was never supposed to be offensive."

D'Arcy and Monk both have been in trouble with sports authorities in the past and next week again will go in front of a Swimming Australia panel.

D'Arcy was excluded from the Australian team for the 2008 Olympics after assaulting another swimmer in a bar fight in Sydney the night he won selection to the squad. He was later convicted and ordered to pay former Australian swimmer Simon Cowley damages for serious facial injuries, but declared himself bankrupt, claiming massive personal debts.

Monk was lucky to avoid charges after hitting the headlines last year for falsely claiming to police that he'd been the victim of a hit-and-run auto accident. He later admitted that he was injured when he fell of his skateboard.

D'Arcy is a medal contender in the 200-meter butterfly at London, and Monk is a member of the 4x200 freestyle relay.