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Bizarre end to Australia's "toughest games ever"


Australia’s chef de mission Kitty Chiller has ended the “toughest Games ever” fending off questions about her position as the Rio Nine saga ended in bizarre circumstances.

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While Australian Olympic Committee officials were unable to find a way to pay the $37,000 fine and retrieve the passports of nine athletes charged with using altered accreditations, a local TV producer managed to settle the matter on Sunday after negotiating with a judge.

“It’s the way you talk to them, don’t be angry,” said Jessica Cruz, a native of Sao Paulo employed by the Nine Network.

Chiller had earlier feared the athletes would miss Monday night’s chartered flight home amid concerns a public holiday in Rio would prevent the AOC paying the fine.

The nine athletes were detained by police overnight on Friday for close to 10 hours and charged with falsifying documents, but Chiller has said it wasn’t their fault.

She admitted the practice of doctoring accreditations so athletes can get into venues to watch events was widespread and used by many countries.

Although Chiller said she stopped it last week, the athletes entered the men’s basketball semi-final on Friday using the altered accreditations.

“I became aware of it a few days earlier and I put a stop to it,” she said overnight.

“I said that’s not the way that our team should behave and it shouldn’t be facilitated.”

The fact she apparently failed to stop the practice, combined with Australia’s dismal Games result of eight gold medals, prompted a question at her final press conference on whether she would stand down as chef de mission.

“I won’t answer that question,” she replied.

Australia’s Games ended fittingly on Sunday when the men’s basketballers crashed out empty-handed after harbouring gold medal hopes only a few days ago.

The Boomers lost the bronze medal match 89-88 after Spain went ahead with six seconds to go.

Australia’s eight gold, the same as London 2012 and the worst since 1992, put it in 10th place on the medals table after aiming for 16 gold and a top five place.

“This has widely been regarded as the toughest Games ever, to prepare for and perform in,” Chiller said.

She said she wasn’t interested in a blame game, but admitted the team fell well short of expectations.

“I think what Rio has reminded us is that Olympic medals are not that easy to come by,” Chiller said.

“When you underperform in elite sport, the blame game always follows.

“I’m not interested in the blame game, the athletes gave 100 per cent.”

Blame for the accreditation drama, however, will be determined by an internal investigation, Chiller said.

The nine athletes – cyclists Ashlee Ankudinoff and Melissa Hoskins, rugby sevens player Ed Jenkins, archers Alec Potts and Ryan Tyack, rowers Olympia Aldersey, Fiona Albert and Lucy Stephens, and hockey player Simon Orchard – were fined 10,000 reais (about $A4100) each and placed on a two-year good behaviour bond.

Swimmer Josh Palmer will also be on tonight’s flight home after being interviewed by Rio police for nearly six hours on Saturday over his claims he was robbed at gunpoint in Copacabana.

An Australian Olympic official said police accepted his version of events and no further action will be taken.


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