Australian sports stars are rallying around champion swimmer Grant Hackett.
The three-time Olympic gold medalist went to ground today after being questioned by Australian Federal Police following an incident on a flight from Adelaide to Melbourne.
A passenger alleged Hackett shoved his seat, then reached around and “tweaked his nipple”, apparently upset at the man for reclining back too far.
Channel 7 showed a picture of Hackett slumped in a wheelchair in front of police who questioned him for several hours. The passenger denied the incident was “nasty” but said he now felt “unsafe” flying.
As speculation built and comments on social media went into the usual overdrive, Hackett has found support among teammates and other Australian sports stars.
Former AFL troublemaker Brendan Fevola told 101.9 Fox FM that Hackett would be “pretty depressed”.
“When I’ve been in trouble before and then it comes out in the paper, you just lock yourself in the house. The phone rings, there’s cameramen outside your house and taking photos and you do think, ‘What have I done?’
“And at the end of the day it all comes down to alcohol.”
And Olympic swimming teammate Geoff Huegill penned a lengthy rebuke on his Facebook page asking for critics to “take a deep breath and slow down”:
“…lets just remember how perfect you have all been through out your life.
“Not all athletes are a bumbling mess once they leave sport, just the same as not all Muslims want to join ISIS and not all journalists are as desperate enough to kidnap kids to grab clicks and TV ratings.
“At one stage or another we all stumble and fall. I have yet to meet the perfect person, though if you read the comments from everyone that can hide behind the screen of a computer or an iPhone, there are more saints in the world than at the Vatican, and even still, this is a place riddled with history far worse than what Grant has ever done and these guys are supposed to be the gate keepers to our next life.”
No charges have been laid against Hackett, although police say inquiries are still being conducted.
Here’s Huegill’s full post: