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The Australian swim duo who posed with guns at a California shooting range and posted the photo to Facebook will be forced to leave the Olympics after the swimming competition ends on the second Sunday of the Summer Games. Nick D'Arcy and Kenrick Monk are also banned from using social media for a month-long period beginning July 16 as part of the punishment stemming from the controversial photograph.
The swimmers told reporters that they will institute a self-imposed social media ban on themselves before the required date.
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"At this stage it would just serve as a distraction," D'Arcy said of the personal ban. "It's really important in these last seven weeks to be really focused on training and focused on what I'm doing in pool because at end of the day I'm going to be coming up against some of the greatest swimmers in the world especially Michael Phelps."
He and Monk were at the center of a firestorm last week after posting the gun photo to Facebook. The picture was quickly taken down at the request of the Australian Olympic Committee, but that wasn't enough to avoid any fallout. The AOC's decision was announced Saturday. D'Arcy and Monk went in front of television cameras on Monday to explain themselves.
Monk said they went to the gun range to duplicate a similar trip the Australian swim team took in Canberra in 2007. Pictures from that visit, including one of gold medalist Libby Trickett firing an antique pistol, were popular tabloid fodder this last weekend and led to accusations of hypocrisy for Swim Australia. Why was a team-sanctioned trip to a gun range allowed but a cheeky pose at one treated differently?
The swimmers thought it would be fun to take the photo. The issue, he said, was posting it to Facebook. The CEO of Swimming Australia agreed.
"They showed poor judgement in posting what we saw as inappropriate photos, in which they appear to be skylarking with guns while in the U.S. last week," said Kevin Neil. "While what the boys did was not illegal, posting the photos on social networks encourages public debate, and that debate can be seen to have a negative impact on the image of the sport and their own image."
D'Arcy and Monk have had issues in the past and this photo made the AOC have to decide whether they would do the same on a worldwide stage in London. A minor public relations headache now was intended to save a major international one later.
This wasn't a case about gun control or the rights of gun owners. It was about two swimmers making a bad decision. Alcohol and topless bars are legal, too. Should athletes post photos of themselves doing shots at a strip club? The AOC may have overreacted, but D'Arcy and Monk have only themselves to blame.
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