Olympics: Hockeyroo heading to Rio despite drink-driving cover-up

Anna Flanagan of Australia will still be heading to the Rio Olympics. Photo / Getty
Anna Flanagan of Australia will still be heading to the Rio Olympics. Photo / Getty

Anna Flanagan's excuse she accepted a lawyer's advice not to tell Hockey Australia about a drink-drive charge could save her Olympic campaign.

The poster girl of a Hockeyroos side expected to win a medal in Rio has been told she must respond to an Australian Olympic Committee "please explain".

Flanagan has been dropped from two vital lead-up tournaments - the International Hockey Open and the Champions Trophy - after covering up her charge.

She is still eligible for the Olympics, but an adverse finding from the AOC could see her stripped of the right to compete in Rio.

She was fined $1000 and her licence was suspended after she blew over 0.15 in March, then failed to tell Hockey Australia coaches or administrators.

That cover-up has not only plunged her deeper into trouble but means rather than miss a lower profile New Zealand tour she is banned from critical lead-in tournaments.

It is understood Flanagan was drinking wine with friends then drove home.

She has told friends and teammates she unwisely accepted a lawyer's advice that her penalty would be unlikely to be exposed publicly.

Flanagan's charge was dealt with in the Perth Magistrates Court in April and it seems she had no intention of ever alerting authorities.

While the exact blood alcohol reading is not known it is believed to be under 0.2, still an extremely dangerous level.

Hockey Australian only found out about the incident when news broke in Perth on Friday, shocked to be blindsided about the 24-year-old's actions.

It also creates an impossible situation for the AOC and outspoken chef de mission Kitty Chiller, who must judge whether to send her to Rio.

A full and frank explanation that satisfies the AOC is critical given it has been so vocal about cracking down on poor athlete behaviour.

Chiller's withering character assessments of Bernard Tomic and Nick Kyrgios have set the bar extremely high for athlete behaviour.

Chiller said she would be "appalled and embarrassed" if Kyrgios pulled an on-court tantrum representing Australia in Rio.
A few swearwords or broken racquets suddenly pale into insignificance given Flanagan's multiple transgressions.

Chiller will know anyone driving a car so drunk potentially becomes a lethal weapon, with the cover-up totally undermining the AOC's ethos of trust and accountability.

Hockey Australia chief executive Cameron Vale said his organisation would respect the AOC process.

"As per our statement on Saturday, Hockey Australia will now look to support Anna and will work through all relevant Australian Olympic Committee processes that govern the selection of athletes for the Rio Olympics," he said.

"She remains eligible to be nominated for selection by Hockey Australia to the AOC."

The Hockeyroos final squad for the Olympics will be chosen after the Champions Trophy in late June.

The understanding is that a decision about Flanagan's availability will be made by the AOC before the Hockeyroos final squad is officially chosen.


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