Sydney (AFP) – Olympic swimming great Grant Hackett has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons again, after he was reportedly questioned by Australian police over a mid-air incident Sunday.
Dual Olympic champion Hackett, 35, missed out on the chance to compete in Rio this year when he failed to qualify for the 200 metres freestyle final at the recent Australian Swimming Championships.
Numerous Australian media reported that the four-time world champion was returning from Adelaide where the competition was held when the incident on a Virgin Australia flight took place.
The airline confirmed an incident on a Adelaide-Melbourne flight took place Sunday morning but did not name Hackett, citing privacy reasons.
“The matter is now in the hands of Australian Federal Police,” a Virgin spokeswoman told AFP.
“Our of respect of the privacy of our passengers and our cabin crew it would be inappropriate to provide any further details.”
The Australian Federal Police confirmed they were called to a Melbourne airport arrival gate, adding that “a 35-year-old man was spoken to however at this time no charges have been laid.”
“Enquiries in relation to this matter are continuing,” federal police added in a statement.
Broadcaster Ray Hadley said on 2GB radio the alleged incident involved a passenger in front of Hackett who had reclined his seat.
“Grant Hackett took exception to the reclining of the seat. There was some sort of altercation,” Hadley added.
“There’s allegations from people on board the flight that Hackett assaulted the man in front of him.”
Hackett’s life spiralled after he previously retired from top-level swimming in 2008, undergoing rehab in 2014 after seeking help for an addiction to sleeping pills.
He had a messy divorce and there were also allegations he smashed up his Melbourne apartment.
Hackett, one of Australian swimming’s most high-profile athletes, had hoped to grab a berth in the 4x200m freestyle relay team in Rio for his fourth Olympic Games.