Australian swimming great Grant Hackett has been questioned by Federal Police over an incident on a flight home from the Australian swimming championships yesterday morning.
The 35-year-old was last night in hiding as Channel 7 broadcast an image they claimed was Hackett slumping in a wheelchair beside a group of police officers at Melbourne airport.
The athlete has been accused of an inflight assault with a passenger telling the Daily Telegraph he had grabbed them by the nipple "quite forcefully".
Hackett was quizzed at Melbourne airport after the first leg of a flight from Adelaide to his home on the Gold Coast following a row with another passenger.
It will be alleged that when another passenger reclined his seat, Hackett complained.
There are further allegations that he got out of his seat and threatened the passenger.
"He was out of control," said one source, "It was a nasty incident."
Seven News reported police sources as saying that during the flight Hackett "went to the toilet for an extended period, taking a bag with him. He emerged aggressive and agitated, taking offence to a male business class passenger who reclined his seat."
Hackett had reportedly yelled abuse and grabbed the man on the chest before crew restrained him and radioed ahead to Federal Police.
Collingwood chief executive Gary Pert helped assist Hackett off the plane and walked him to a seat inside the airport terminal.
Pert accompanied Hackett to a toilet when police approached them.
Pert told the Herald Sun he saw Hackett on the plane tap the passenger in front of him and ask if he could put his seat up.
A flight attendant then asked Hackett to keep his hands to himself.
"Grant was not aggressive but did ask a passenger in front of him to not recline his chair back," Pert told the Herald Sun.
"It appeared as if he (Hackett) reached from behind the seat and tapped the man in front of him to ask if he could put his seat up.
"There was no altercation, no argument, no restraining behaviour from the flight attendants.
"After that, he (Hackett) literally sat back and fell asleep."
AFP officers met the flight in Melbourne and took the swim superstar away for questioning.
Hackett recently failed in his bid to make the Australian swimming team for the Rio Olympics.
He has since been in negotiations with Channel 7 network to work on their commentary team.
A Virgin employee at the airport has confirmed the incident to The Daily Telegraph.
An AFP spokesman yesterday said police were requested to go an arrival gate at Melbourne Airport on Sunday morning.
"A 35-year-old man was spoken to, however, at this time, no charges have been laid," he said.
"Inquiries in relation to this matter are continuing."